Why repeating your message isn't the same as staying on message

Overt repetition tends to infuriate the audience

Taegan Goddard

Somewhere along the line, political consultants must have told politicians and their spokespeople to repeat their answers over and over again. The logic behind their recommendation: News organizations often have space for only a single quote per person, so if you utter the same sentence over and over again, they'll be forced to use it.

That may have worked many years ago, but it doesn't work anymore. Today's reporters shame repetitive pols by releasing the video of their full, evasive, interview. And it's not just broadcast reporters who shame obfuscating politicians — print reporters often post the video to their newspaper websites as well.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Taegan Goddard

Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political websites. He also runs Wonk Wire and the Political Dictionary. Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and COO of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. senator and governor. Goddard is also co-author of You Won — Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties. Goddard's essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country, including The Washington Post, USA TodayBoston Globe, San Francisco ChronicleChicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Christian Science Monitor. Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.