The traditional news media needs eyeballs in order to sell advertisements. They are not in the business of reporting the news -- they are in the business of attracting eyeballs to advertisements. So they need drama and drama requires controversy. So if you don't give them controversy by cleverly attacking your opponent every day -- they will manufacture controversy to attack you (to punish you for your failure to feed the media beast).
Exhibit A: witness Chris Matthews (and every other cable network's) relentless stoking of the mythical [nonexistent] Obama/Clinton feud today. IF YOU DO NOT GIVE THE TRADMED BEAST A JUICY CONTROVERSIAL STORY EVERY DAY THAT ATTRACTS EYEBALLS -- THEY WILL EAT YOU TO PUNISH YOU.
Ignore this advice at your peril: I imagine Al Gore and John Kerry are having a nice Heineken together at the Denver Holiday Inn Express right now instead of ruling the free world (I hope Bob Shrum picks up the $8 tab). I don't care who you are -- you cannot rise above it, you cannot stay above the fray, the tradmed beast is bigger than you and will eat you if you do not feed it. Word to your moms.