Politico: Conservative Media Helped Paul Ryan's Rise

In an August 24 article, Politico writes that Rep. Paul Ryan “elbowed his way into the top tier of GOP politics” by cultivating “relationships with a small but influential corps of commentators, policy intellectuals, and impresarios of the conservative movement.” The article notes that Ryan has been frequently touted in outlets like The Wall Street JournalWeekly Standard and Fox News. That attention, in turn, helped Ryan and his policy proposals win influence among Republicans in congress.

Fox News certainly helped make Ryan a “star” within the conservative movement. Prior to his selection, Ryan was touted by Fox News personalities as a “genius” and a man of “courage.” Fox News Sunday gave him a birthday cake. The network also championed Ryan's budget despite its “smoke and mirrors” accounting.

Since his selection, Ryan has received similarly fawning praise. Fox News personalities have praised his intellect (“he knows the numbers inside and out”), his appearance (“could be the most ripped” VP in history, "national sex symbol"), and his demeanor (“personally quite appealing,” “kind of everybody's dream older brother”). Fox News' Juan Williams summed up the network's relationship with Romney-Ryan when he noted that they appear on Fox more than “any other network” because “they feel comfortable here.”

From Politico:

190 times. That's how often the Wisconsin lawmaker's name appeared in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal between Election Day 2008--when a Republican rout at the polls left the conservative intelligentsia urgently looking for a new star--and the day this month when Mitt Romney tapped Ryan his running mate.

Another revealing number: Ryan and his plans for overhauling the federal budget drew at least 72 mentions in the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, according to a POLITICO count. There were at least as many references in the equally influential National Review.

These billings, in turn, helped Ryan drive an even bigger number: 1,050 is how many times Ryan and the Ryan budget were talked up on Fox News.


Ryan invites these people to off-the-record dinner briefings to talk about ideas and his policy proposals. He calls them to say how much he liked their articles. He attends their going-away parties and hires young people from their staffs. Above all, he has made clear that he takes these people seriously and wants to be taken seriously by them.

And these Washington and New York influentials--including writers Bill Kristol and Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, and Rich Lowry of National Review, and policy provocateurs like Bill Bennett and Pete Wehner--have repaid the favor. In the process they have helped Ryan illuminate a path to power much different than the traditional strategy of bill-passing, logrolling, and above all loyal time-serving that historically was the way to win influence on Capitol Hill.