It's known as Greener's Law. Bill Greener, a former press aide to Gerald Ford and Donald Rumsfeld, liked to advise anyone who would listen never to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.
Maybe in the case of Premier Christy Clark, this could also include never picking on broadcasters with unlimited amounts of airtime.
Over the weekend at a B.C. Liberal barbecue, she made a crack about how people in the crowd probably never listen to CKNW Radio. Clark used to host a talk-show on the station. She also took a swipe at the Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer.
That brought a heated reaction from CKNW senior editor Gord MacDonald, who fired back with an editorial that included the following comments:
• "I presume Christy Clark doesn’t like the criticism she’s been getting from the likes of Vaughn Palmer and Michael Smyth and Philip Till and Bill Good and Simi Sara and Jon McComb and Jill Bennett and Sean Leslie and yours truly. I presume Christy has decided that things are going so poorly for the B.C. Liberals under her leadership that it’s time to blame the messenger."
• "Remember how she had so much respect for you, the CKNW listener, who tuned in to her show every day? She of course knew darn well that CKNW and you, the listener, gave her a platform that raised her profile so she could jump back into politics."
And on it went, culminating in a suggestion that Clark was disloyal to listeners of the station.
I was a bit baffled by MacDonald's outburst. As someone who has paid attention to media coverage of Clark, I have detected a double standard in how she is treated in the mainstream media in comparison to her predecessor, Gordon Campbell.
Campbell was consistently given the benefit of the doubt by CKNW broadcasters and Palmer, whereas Clark rarely receives a break.
Clark herself happened to be one of the broadcasters who consistently boosted Campbell's political career. Now, she is probably taken aback that her former friends aren't doing the same for her.
No matter who she appoints as her press secretary, this situation isn't improving.
And over the weekend, she let out a few frank words about what she thought about all of this.
I like to think that I've been as tough on Campbell as I have been on Clark. At the end of the day, they're both poseurs who lack the requisite curiosity about the economy, the environment, and the human condition to be effective premiers.
In fact, I think Campbell was a worse premier than Clark because at least she did something about the minimum wage and she allowed welfare recipients to earn a little money on the side. She also didn't introduce a whopper of a fudge-it budget like Campbell did before the 2009 election, nor did she blow nearly a billion dollars on an unnecessary convention centre.
This is not something you'll likely see written in a column by Palmer or hear in a CKNW editorial by MacDonald. And that's probably why the premier got a little snippy over the weekend.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.