A Gaffe Is a Gaffe When Reporters Say So

Campaign coverage often gets bogged down in trivia—inconsequential polling data, the latest “off message” comment by an associate, and so on. But then there are the “gaffes,” when politicians say something that we’re told means a lot more than it might seem. Barack Obama’s 2008 comment about small-town voters clinging to their guns and religion was one. In 2000, Al Gore was a Media Gaffe Machine: Love Canal, internet inventing, etc. Most of them didn’t check out, but that’s not what matters. Gaffes are elevated when reporters think they reinforce something about a politician. In 2000, NPR‘s Cokie Roberts said […]


Romney’s the Right Kind of Flipflopper

As we’ve written before, some political flipflops are better than others. The ones that Mitt Romney commits, or might commit in the future, are often seen as being the good kind. That argument was advanced once more this Sunday (4/29/12) on the Chris Matthews Show, by Time editor Rick Stengel and the host himself, who were engaged in a familiar Beltway media discussion where journalists pretend to be campaign strategists. In this case, the question was whether the Obama campaign should push the idea that Romney is a flipflopper, or the idea that he’s very conservative. STENGEL: The thing that […]


Obama’s Not Quite Silver Spoon Swipe UPDATED

Last week Barack Obama declared some sort of class war on Mitt Romney–at least that’s what Fox, the New York Post and a few other outlets would have you believe. On April 18, Obama gave a speech at a community college touting, among other things, a rather common only-in-America underdog spirit: Somebody gave me an education. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance–just like these folks up here are looking for a chance. The next day, as blogger Michael Thaddeus pointed out (4/21/12), Fox host Steve Doocy added a […]