May 23, 2019

Howard Schultz's Three Biggest Misconceptions

“On Tuesday night, CNN hosted a live town hall with former Starbucks CEO, and potential presidential candidate, Howard Schultz. It didn’t go particularly well. Schultz’s answers were largely vague, with occasional lapses into absurdity (“I don’t see color,” Schultz said when asked about race).

But more interesting than the town hall’s content was its existence. Lots of people with no base of political support would like to run for president, but they can’t, because the media wouldn’t take their candidacies seriously. So why is Schultz, a political newcomer who “had the worst numbers of any potential candidate tested” in CNN’s own poll, getting such red-carpet treatment?

The answer, of course, is money. Schultz is a billionaire, and in American politics, money is a shortcut to legitimacy.

“Schultz doesn’t have to do the hard work of building a mass movement or representing a genuine constituency to get attention in our politics, because the media uses ability to spend money as a proxy for seriousness of campaign,” says Lee Drutman, a political scientist at the New American Foundation. “And when the media bestows seriousness on a candidate, the public follows along.””

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