Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The media, Romney, and the 47%

Just a quick observation on the role of the mainstream media in campaign.  I regularly follow New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and the New Yorker magazine.  It's impossible to believe that these haven't become active particpants in the campaign on behalf of Obama and the Democrats.  NYT and WaPo feature a constant stream of negative stories on Romney and puff pieces on Obama, with the "news" carefully crafted to omit serious analysis of failure or wrongdoing by the administration (e.g. Eric Holder's "Fast and furious" coverup, Kathleen Sibelius' apparent violation of federal law, harassment and discrimination in Janet napolitano's DHS).  Staples in the op-eds are venomous attacks on Romney, most of which are based on what can only be intentional misreadings of what he actually says.  New Yorker has a constant stream of nasty bits on Romney and Ryan, while giving Obama very sympathetic treatment.

Case in point, Romney's "infamous" 47% statement.  This morning NPR 'journalists claimed that Romney wrote off 47% of the public, saying he didn't care about them.  Barack Obama, assuming the role of Liar-in-Chief, also made this claim.  Under it own name, New York Times excoriates Romney as an evil man -- "bone chilling cynicism and revolting smugness" is what they see.

I watched the Mother Jones" video in its entirety and saw none of that.  They made it up.  In fact, one must either be extremely stupid or extremely dishonest to interpret Romney's words as "class warfare" and an attack on anyone.  Here's what actually happened.

There was a discussion of the idea that America used to be about opportunity, i.e. that people would pursue opportunities and make successes of themselves.  Romney notes how Obama is dividing Americans with class warfare, and notes how Marco Rubio told a story in which his parents, seeing people with wealth did not say "we have to get some of their wealth" but "if we work hard we can be successful too."  He also notes that it's hard to communicate this message.

Then one person in the audience asks (direct quote here) "In the last three years all everybody has been told is 'don't worry, we'll take care of you."  How are we going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everyone you gotta take care of yourself?"

Romney responds that he cannot expect to sway Obama's core supporters -- "the 47% who will vote for him no matter what," (he also says it might be 48% or 49%) -- and it's exactly in that context he says he can't worry about them.  Instead, to win the election, he has to convince the 5%-10% of undecided voters in the center.  he also observes -- quite correctly -- that about 47% of Americans pay no income tax, so if he campaigns on tax cuts, it essentially falls on deaf ears with them [Steele's comment: unless they are libertarians or understand economics], since Obama can call it "tax cuts for the wealthy."

One must be  very dishonest or very stupid (not mutually exclusive, I know) to conclude what NPR and NYT  claim Romney said.

The story with Rubio starts at about 15:45, and the "infamous" 47% lines about 16:50.

Here's another example.  NPR also claimed this morning that Romney said there could be no Mideast solution because the Palestinians don't want peace.  Frankly, I think that's a correct assessment of the situation, but it isn't what Romney said.  Instead, he said "I'm torn between two perspectives..." and goes on to describe both the "it's hopeless" perspective and another diametrically different one, which suggests there's reason to think that a real breakthrough might be possible, but not by pressuring Israel.  It's actually quite thoughtful and not a snap answer.  God forbid!

This one starts at about 4:40.

Look, I'm not a great fan of Romney.  If someone doesn't like him, I understand.  But the campaign ought to be fought on the issues, the press ought to honestly cover them, the press ought not to campaign on Obama's behalf, and most especially, the press ought not make stuff up.

What's happening is very, very dangerous.  I've followed these things for most of my life, and I think this is the worst example I've seen of the "news" media engaging in plain propaganda.  We saw this with their almost immediate slander campaign against the Tea Party movement, their fawning over "Occupy," and now this. It's not that statist bias in the news media is something new, because it's not, it's rather that the press is actively campaigning and distorting the news.  It's very bad to see this happening.

I agree. It is sad and disappointing that professional institutions such as these will steep this low for political reasons. However, I am a firm believer that the US media of today doesn't carry nearly as much credibility as they did even 5-10 years ago. Especially with the Libertarian resurgence and the growth of a highly politically neutral youth vote. People are sick of all the BS and I believe that they cannot afford to stand back any longer. They have to get involved or at least inform themselves.
Everything Romney said may be true, but he could have handled the "47%" issue WAY better.

For starters, his "victim" comment should have been addressed at Obama: they're victims of Obama's economy. They don't want to be dependent on the government, but because of Obama's terrible handling of the economy, they're forced to go to the only place Obama will allow - the government.

Even if 47% of Americans believe they are entitled to those things Romney mentioned (I believe the number is probably higher), there was no reason for Romney to say it. Alcoholics don't like to hear they're alcoholics, and people mooching off the government don't like to hear they're moochers. And people in the middle don't want to hear that their country is turning into a welfare haven.

And furthermore, why the pessimism that Obama already has nearly half the vote?! As you noted Dr. Steele, Romney says that already, Obama has as high as 49% of the vote! Apparently he has so little confidence in his ability to persuade, that he's just giving up. I would be very discouraged if I was a loyal Republican to hear such things from my nominee...hardly Reaganesque.

Thanks for your comments.

I think you're right, Greg, that mainstream media has been losing a great deal of credibility. That's likely to accelerate.

Given that this ws a private conversation with a small group of people, I don't think MR's words were so ill-chosen. As for the numbers, I think both sides understand that the country is sharply divided and that they have no real chance of swaying the other's core supporters. They are fighting over the undecided independent types while trying not to alienate their cores.

IMO Romney ought to now be explicitly campaigning hard on these issues, especially on entrepreneurship and opportunities for everyone vs. cradle-to-grave welfare state and national bankruptcy. Stop apologizing and waffling.
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