Rich Lowry: Media continue campaign against Romney

During his overseas trip, Mitt Romney traveled to some of our closest allies accompanied by some of his most merciless enemies — the media.

If you don't know that Romney's foreign jaunt was the worst diplomatic fiasco since the Zimmermann telegram or the XYZ Affair, you haven't been reading his press clips.

In Poland, when a few reporters shouted thoughtlessly hostile questions at Romney near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they nicely encapsulated the tenor of the coverage. A Romney aide, Rick Gorka, told them to "shove it" — a perfectly apt sentiment.

The press can say, like it or not, it simply played its role. Which is true, if it's supposed to be querulous, unfair and self-obsessed.

In London, the U.S. press covered the British press's manufactured outrage over Romney's Olympics comments. Romney didn't say anything about the shaky preparations that you couldn't have read in a British newspaper. That didn't stop Fleet Street's gleefully nationalistic piling-on, which gave the accompanying U.S. media its narrative for the trip. In one word: fiasco.

On gaffe high alert in Israel, the press fastened on Romney's observation at a Jerusalem fundraiser that culture has a large hand in Israel's economic success. Two-for-two, the press needed just one more gaffe in Poland to achieve the "mistake-ridden trip" trifecta. Pay dirt came in the "shove it" exchange.

Notice the steadily diminishing quality of the Romney miscues. The Romney trip started with the candidate supposedly offending an entire nation; it ended with his traveling press secretary offending three reporters.

No matter. Gorka got nearly as much play as Lech Walesa, the legendary Polish human-rights activist and former president, who, unaccountably, endorsed Romney despite his "gaffe-plagued" foreign trip.

The shouted questions in Poland were instructive — all emanating from deep within the media's own narrative. There was: "Do you have a statement for the Palestinians?" Then there was: "What about your gaffes?" Finally, that original follow-up: "Do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"

Seriously, we send people to journalism school for this?

The reporters were said to be boiling over with frustration from lack of access to Romney. But Romney did interviews with Brian Williams and Matt Lauer of NBC, David Muir of ABC, Jan Crawford of CBS, Greta Van Susteren and Carl Cameron of Fox, and Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan of CNN.

It's true that there was a gross imbalance on the trip between the access for TV journalists and for the traveling print reporters. This might make fascinating fodder for a Columbia Journalism Review symposium one day. Outside of media and political professionals, though, it interests precisely ... no one.

The fact is that the press doesn't need any excuse to be either superficial or unfriendly to Romney. Back here at home, Newsweek ran a cover calling the former Massachusetts governor a "wimp." A publicity stunt with a stitched-together excuse for an article attached, the cover nonetheless made "NBC Nightly News" on Sunday — one of the few segments on the broadcast not related to beach volleyball.

Despite all the conservative energy devoted to monitoring and critiquing media bias, it is as bad as ever. Why? The answer goes back to Romney's comment in Jerusalem: the enduring importance of culture.

Imagine if a cadre of journalists were recruited to cover the Obama campaign from 100 devoted Rush Limbaugh listeners living in the 230-mile corridor from Midland to Amarillo, Texas. Imagine they were overwhelmingly pro-life and heavily evangelical, owned five firearms each and largely socialized with one another and other conservative Republicans.

They could try their damnedest to be fair to the president whose politics they disdain. Still, their own predilections would inevitably show through.

In the real world, journalists tend to have the opposite of all these qualities, and on top of that they are usually self-important and willfully blind to their own biases. It's a wonder they aren't told "shove it" more often.

Rich Lowry is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at:

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Amedeo Lauria's picture

Who are you talking about???

Sandra...are you talking about Obama and his appointees? If so I agree fully with your comments. Need to watch your pronouns...gets a little confusing.

JEAN FORD's picture

He simply does not have what

He simply does not have what it takes to be a world leader. He doesn't have what it takes to lead this country either for that matter. We have a right to know who he is and what he stands for. He thinks his business is none of our business...just wants us to blindly elect him whether or not he cheated on his taxes, shipped jobs overseas, destroyed companies, etc. His sense of entitlement and his total inability to empathize with the majority of Americans makes him a puppet for the one percenters. And he has pandered so outrageously to the extremists in his base he will never be able to move back to the center and they will absolutely control him in the White House.


Romney's problem

His problem is not so much the media as it is the split in the Republican party. The extreme right wing is trying to push him into positions that will make it impossible for him to get elected. As a result he is hiding stuff, not only from the press and from them but from us too. The press hates it when you hide stuff. It brings out the bloodhound in them. Considering all the stuff he is hiding, their bloodhound instincts must be pretty weak. He is trying to run on a non-record. The stuff he did as governor was all wrong because he no longer believes in any of it. The stuff he did at Baines is non-existent because he retired retroactively. He is proud of having made all his money but he doesn't want anybody to know how he did it or where it is. He believes in Bush economics but doesn't want Bush or Cheney anywhere near the Republican convention. His greatest donor, Adelsman, a long time ally with Netanyahu, has been calling for a first strike on Iran and unmitigated defense of Israeli West Bank settlements for the past two years but Romney says all options are on the table. It will be interesting to see how his positions evolve after the convention.

Betty Davies's picture

Similar to LePage...

This article reminds me of what LePage apologists so often try to do--instead of facing up to the idiotic things their boy says and does, they go after the mean old media who report them.

Gaffe #1: Insult your host. In Britain, he publicly questioned whether London was ready to host the Summer Olympic Games.

Gaffe #2: Forget the importance of diplomacy. In Israel, he outraged Palestinians leaders with his description of Jerusalem as the "undisputed capital" of Israel. It is far from undisputed. He also suggested that Jewish culture is superior to Palestinian culture.

Gaffe #3: Pot calling kettle black. In Poland, annoyed by questions from reporters about Gaffes #1 and #2 (e.g,, one asked if he had a statement for Palestinians who were offended by his suggestion that Jewish culture is superior), Romney's folks attempted to emphasize the importance of showing respect for a sacred site by yelling, "Kiss my ass! This is a holy site" and "Shove it!"

JEAN FORD's picture

He is so inured by his life

He is so inured by his life of extreme privilege he is clueless as to how the rest of us live. He insulted the bakery cookies offered by his hosts in PA, he insulted the raincoats (gee, couldn't you find anything cheaper) of the NASCAR fans, his wife owns a "couple of Cadillacs", he's having an elevator put in for his cars at his 12 million dollar beach house, he claimed a $77,000 deduction for the care of his Olympic quality horses and stashes his money in foreign bank accounts to cheat the government out of paying his taxes. Do I want this guy to be the leader of the free world...absolutely not!

RONALD RIML's picture

If you love LePage

You'll actually cream your jeans over Plastic-Man......


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