Media criticism

Greuel consultant blames the LA Times

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John Shallman, the Valley-based lead consultant for Wendy Greuel's campaign for mayor, didn't care for Times columnist Jim Newton's analysis of what went wrong. Shallman picks apart Newton's point-by-point discussion of missteps or steps by the Greuel campaign that didn't work — you can read Newton here and Shallman here — but the real subtext seems to be that Shallman faults Times coverage of the race. For instance, he claims the Times all but ignored Greuel's 36-point plan called "Leading L.A. Forward," except for the part about hiring 2,000 more police officers.

Excerpts of Shallman's rant:

There were two other groups that made this race a referendum on unions: The Times and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents utility workers in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Greuel had no control over the IBEW's decision to spend money to support her. Meanwhile, The Times covered almost exclusively process stories about campaign spending by unions.

That's the real tragedy of this campaign. We could have had a substantive discussion of real issues, a debate about the specific plan Greuel had put forward. Unfortunately, The Times focused instead on union spending. Out of the 188 articles about the race, I counted 61 stories that were negative on Greuel and four that were negative on Garcetti; most were process stories that focused on subjects such as unions or endorsements. Voters never got what they deserved: a referendum on the policy issues facing our city. That’s a shame.

It is easy to Wednesday-morning quarterback campaign strategy. But in this election, The Times was to Eric Garcetti what Fox News was to Mitt Romney.

Really, Fox News? Shallman does concede some Team Greuel strategy that backfired.

Greuel emerged from the primary battered by weeks of negative attacks, while Garcetti had been given a free ride from the media and the other candidates during the primary. Not surprisingly, Greuel was down -- by 10 points in a USC Price/Los Angeles Times poll -- and we knew that she could not prevail if she lost absentee voters. Nor would we be able to raise money as long as donors believed Greuel could not win. So we took a calculated risk: We went on TV early to try to change the dynamics of the race. What happened? Greuel surged. Our message worked. Public polling showed her taking the lead. We were in the game.

In response, the Garcetti campaign went 100% negative. We had hoped the momentum from our early ad buy would translate into raising more campaign money, a strategy that has worked for many underdog campaigns. But the money did not come in. Ultimately, had we not spent money early to get back in the race, we would never have had a chance.

Shallman, right, with ABC 7 reporter John North at Greuel headquarters in Van Nuys. LA Observed file photo

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