Feingold's media firm kicks him when he's down | Wis.Community

Feingold's media firm kicks him when he's down

In some remarkable comments in Roll Call, Steve Eichenbaum, the media consultant whose ads have always received too much credit for Feingold's 1992 victory, disavows the spots he did this year.

“The decision-making process was far different,” Feingold’s longtime media consultant, Steve Eichenbaum, told Roll Call in a recent interview. Contrary to the past three races, the Milwaukee-based media consultant found himself taking orders rather than having creative input.

“They weren’t our ideas,” Eichenbaum explained about the ads that made the airwaves. “We were more of a production company...

I don’t even consider it our stuff,” said Eichenbaum, who is disappointed and tired of answering questions about why this year’s ads were so different than in the past. “Had we won with this stuff, I wouldn’t have taken credit for it.”

That last sentence is my favorite, and the most disingenuous.

Eichenbaum says he has high regard for Feingold and that "he’s not sure that his discarded ideas would have changed the outcome," Roll Call says.

Then it would be advisable not to flap your gums, buddy.

It is heresy to challenge the established story line, but the famous 1992 spots barely ran in the three-way primary, which Feingold won after his two opponents destroyed each other with a string of negative commercials. (Disclosure: I worked for one of them.)

Feingold was so under-funded his primary TV, while clever, was almost invisible. He did raise enough money in the general election to have a solid TV presence and beat the incumbent, Bob Kasten. But the story of that campaign and the role of his commercials has been blown up to mythical proportions over the years.

Eichenbaum is not a political firm, but an ad agency which has done an occasional campaign. Maybe that explains why, unlike people who deal with the stresses and frustrations of campaigns on a regular basis, he was willing to kick Feingold and his campaign when it's down.

One thing we know for sure: It is not the kind of behavior that will get him more political clients.

Wish I'd said:  Afterthought:  In every campaign there is some internal debate about message and strategy.  The candidate, staff, pollster, and media consultant may disagree about which path to take.  But once a decision is made, everyone pulls together.  Everyone, of course, is a genius in hindsight.  It is bad form to say afterward, "Gee, if they had only listened to me..." Although people have been known to do it talking to their political buddies at the bar, there's no excuse for saying it in the media.

Published

December 7, 2010 - 9:34am

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