It’s become clear that Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant craves attention. And, she gets the attention she seeks through outrageous publicity stunts meant to drum-up media coverage—from her strange outbursts to her provocative statements. Unfortunately, the means—public tantrums and all—Sawant employs to gain media attention works toward her success in local government.
Yet, as Sawant’s ego grows, so does the public’s exasperation with the local politician. Seattle PI’s Joe Connelly explained last week that even the far left’s patience with Sawant is beginning to wear thin. The Stranger’s Anna Minard—a cheerleader of Sawant who once spoke of her “mindblowing” intelligence—recently wrote, “Her staff is probably the least diverse on the floor and the last time I tried to talk to her, they told me there was a two-week wait time… That’s insane. Y’all get your act together, people are noticing and your reputation is to be accessible to the people.”
KIRO’s Dori Monson recently made a similar assertion on his radio show. Monson pointed out that Sawant, who is quick to make herself available to national news outlets, appears to consider local news outlets beneath her. Her attitude toward local news even includes the Stranger and the Seattle Weekly—the news outlets that, arguably, made her.
The Weekly’s Ellis Conklin joined the Stranger in criticizing Sawant last week, pointing out that the socialist city council member “plays by her own strange and bewildering rules when it comes to dealing with the media – not to mention her colleagues on the Council, most of whom have had it up to here with her show-boating and her narcissistic delight in upstaging them at every turn.” Conklin goes on to write,
Her chief flack is a guy named Clay Showalter. He serves as palace guard. No one gets to Sawant without first getting through the tall gangly Showalter. Trying to get an interview on even most benign subject can take weeks. “We are scheduled out three or four weeks,” he told me today. “We have to turn down many, many interviews.” Seldom, though, do requests from the national press – who still find Sawant’s Socialist schtick newsworthy – go unanswered.
So when will she be available, I asked Showalter.
“OK, how about next week?”
“No, she’s completely booked up next week.”
“I don’t know. We’ll see.”
“How about next year,” Clay?”
“I’m sorry, I have to go now. We need to prepare for the rally at Sea-Tac this afternoon on the minimum wage.”
Soon after, as we now know, Sawant was arrested by SeaTac police for refusing to abide by the law—in fact, that’s what she probably was preparing for.
All this begs the question, where would Sawant be if not for the media taking her attention grabbing bait? Is the press doing Sawant a favor by raising her profile? Or, does all the media coverage—and her to-good-for-local-news attitude—work against Sawant by revealing her true colors? Sawant’s ability to be re-elected to her council seat in 2015 will speak volumes. Then again, her chances so far look good… an opponent has yet to announce.