Hillary Clinton and the Media: A Cautionary Tale

POLITICO’s coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign has generally stamped, rather than fueled, criticism of Hillary Clinton. However, a July 7 post from the publication leads with, “The first national interview of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign did not go well.”

Such a stark assessment from a professional outlet does not bode well for the former First Lady. And while it’s not at all unexpected, other candidates don’t need to find themselves in the same situation.

Based on the research we have conducted and reviewed, voters look for candidates they can trust and like personally. This likability factors in strongly in candidate preferences especially for swing voters. This likability factor was prominent in the 2012 presidential campaign where, even though voters trusted Mitt Romney more on the issue most important to them, they liked Obama. We all know the rest of the story.

This is the dangerous territory where Hillary Clinton now treads. Her team knows the strategic value of likability and have created elaborate messages and visuals to make Hillary a likable, relatable candidate. But these attempts to create a likable candidate ignore another key attribute that underlies likability: authenticity.

Authenticity is the core of trust and thus likability for a candidate. It cannot be manufactured no matter how good the ad men behind a candidate.

This is why the current crisis for Hillary Clinton’s campaign is a cautionary tale for others seeking office. Avoid the trap she finds herself in by being authentic, being true to yourself, and being honest.

Candidates who know their core beliefs and principles, and stake positions based on them, gain voters trust even when voters may disagree with them. Finding the right way of communicating authentic values can be tricky, but there are resources available, such as our website Thought.buzz, which is a terrific resource for citizens and policymakers alike.

And remember the first rule of political scandals: It’s never the deed that does you in. It’s always the coverup.