Why Media Careers Don’t Help Candidates

By Alyssa Rosenberg

I’m not sure anyone would have predicted going into this campaign that Fox News would do a better job than NBC of taking strict care not to violate equal time rules. But the May 31 deadline the network’s given Mike Huckabee to decide if he wants to run for president or step away from his job is just another illustration of why, however much it pays, a media gig is not actually a great holding position for people who have finished up one government or political job and are contemplating running for another. Not only do you have the opportunity to say idiotic things that can be neatly spliced into campaign ads later, you are building a time bomb into you decision-making process.

Now, obviously there is a primary season, and you’ve got to make decisions within the context of the pace of the race itself. But it’s actually not a bad thing to contemplate seriously whether you want to run for office, and if so, how you want to run. Adding another deadline to the process doesn’t facilitate sober decision-making. Doing a boring old job studying policy, teaching classes, or running a company or a charity might not be as exciting as being on television. But the potential for error or general unpresidentialness on-air and the accelerated timetable seem to me to make talking heads jobs considerably less desirable if you actually want to win an election in the future.