But it's not just Reno that was likely on Berkley's mind. The New York Times published
a story last year exploring instances in which Berkley "pushed legislation or twisted the arms of federal regulators to pursue an agenda that is aligned with the business interests of her husband." Berkley is now under investigation
by the House Ethics Committee following a complaint Republicans filed after the story was published.
Monday wasn't the first time Berkley has engaged with the New York Times
. After the article about her was published last September, Berkley's campaign offered a harsh response, saying the paper "ignored crucial facts in order to drive a misleading narrative." If Republican Sen. Dean Heller
brings up the piece in a debate or forum in the fall, look for Berkley to cast the paper as an out of state entity that missed the ball on the story. Taking a strict posture toward it now will help her make that case down the road, her campaign appears to believe.
But the damage is done, and the ethics investigation is ongoing. There appears to be little Berkley can do but move forward and convince voters she is fighting for Nevada. One press release doesn't take much effort, but if the campaign spends more time dinging the Times
in the fall, the effort may prove fruitless.
In Florida, Mack is no stranger to tussling with the press. As Politico noted
, his frosty relationship with the press was already taking shape in the spring when his father, a former senator, singled out reporters in a letter after a negative story about the younger Mack was published.
The latest battle followed the Tampa Bay Times
' decision to endorse Dave Weldon
over Mack in the GOP race, citing Mack's "questionable work habits, a sense of entitlement and an undistinguished record in Congress."
That prompted an angry missive from Mack's campaign manager who said the paper and writer Adam Smith
"should have the decency to admit they are Left Wing Democrats whose circulation is declining because their Left Wing agenda is offensive to so many rational conservative voters."
The spirited response may win Mack some good will among his most ardent supporters, but for a congressman who's already developing a reputation as a brash figure, the antagonism isn't ideal.
Often, lashing out against the media is a sign of a frustrated campaign, uselessly venting. In Wisconsin, the Democratic Party blasted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
for endorsing Gov. Scott Walker
during the recall. The party's fury was one of several signs that emerged in the lead up to Election Day pointing to a Walker win.
Other times, picking a fight signals recognition that a story is potentially very damaging. Berkley's case falls into this category, as does the Mitt Romney
campaign's recent decision to demand a retraction for a Washington Post story
about Bain Capital's investments in firms that shipped jobs overseas. The demand was unsuccessful.
Candidate criticism of the press is nothing new. But an extended battering may not be worth the effort that could be used on other things. Berkley and Mack would be wise to take that under consideration for the rest of the cycle.