Dec
12
2011

Washington Post: Campaign Journalism or Campaign Advertising?

The Washington Post launched a series of Republican presidential candidate profiles on Sunday (12/11/11). First up was Mitt Romney, and right away you sense there's something a little off here. Here's the headline and subhead: The Problem Solver Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about feeling voters' pain. He just wants to get to work relieving it. Reporter Ann Gerhart's piece begins: The mind of Mitt Romney is a supremely rational place. The article is full of quotes from Romney supporters, alongside nods of approval from the reporter: He is a man with a prodigious intellect who has been married […]

Dec
07
2011

Republicans and the Hezbollah-in-Mexico Menace

Political campaign watchers seem to agree that the election will be about the economy, and that Republicans probably won't have much to say about Obama's foreign policy (partly because it doesn't much differ from what a Republican president might be doing). The New York Times' Richard Oppel has a piece today headlined, "Republican Candidates Aim at Obama Foreign Policy." So what exactly is the Republican case against Obama's foreign policy? That it's too soft on the Hezbollah menace on our southern border. Seriously. Oppel writes: A small but revealing episode unfolded in the closing minutes of the last Republican presidential […]

Dec
06
2011

Clear Channel Tunes Out Bay Area Progressive Radio

Imagine that the company founded by the frontrunning Republican presidential candidate also owned a massive radio company–say, the largest one in the country. And imagine that said company announced, right as the election season started, that it was ditching its progressive talk format in a major city for a mostly conservative lineup. Stop imagining–Brad Friedman reports that this is reality: The only progressive AM radio talk station, Green960-KKGN, in one of the nation's most liberal cities, San Francisco, is being taken off the AM dial by radio behemoth Clear Channel Communications, Inc.–a media conglomerate now owned by Mitt Romney's Bain […]

Nov
30
2011

Mitt Romney's Murderous Dictator Gaffe

If you've paid attention to the presidential campaign season, you've no doubt been entertained by the string of embarrassments and gaffes: Rick Perry blows the voting age! Herman Cain can't remember what to say about Libya! Mitt Romney talks about the upside of a murderous dictatorship! Wait–what? In the November 22 debate, Romney gave this answer to a question about what to do about Pakistan: We don't want to just pull up stakes and get out of town after the enormous output we've just made for the region. Look at Indonesia in the '60s. We helped them move toward modernity. […]

Nov
22
2011

Does the Lie in Mitt Romney's TV Ad Matter?

Huffington Post reporterJon Ward did what reporters should do when covering political campaign ads. He told readers, at the top of his story, that the new Mitt Romney ad was based on a lie: The 60-second Romney ad quoted Obama as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." It sounds like Obama is talking about his own chances in 2012. But it's actually a clip of Obama mocking his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), for not wanting to talk about the economy in the final stretch of that election. McCain's response to the collapse […]

Nov
18
2011

Media Get 'Lazy' Factchecking Rick Perry's Ad Claim

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's new TV commercial is based on a lie. Will reporters say so? The ad starts with a Barack Obama quote: "We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades." To which Perry responds: "Can you believe that? That's what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That's pathetic. It's time to clean house in Washington." Now, it would be rather unusual for a president to say that. Obama didn't. The quote comes from an event where Obama spoke about efforts to woo corporations to do more […]

Oct
18
2011

Inevitable Presidential Nominees, Then and Now

With all the chatter about the inevitability of Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination, it might be useful to recall the last time the media were sending the same message about an early favorite, at least according to the national polls: Democratic Nomination Preferences Oct. 4-7, 2007 Gallup Poll Candidate % Support Hillary Clinton 47 Barack Obama 26 John Edwards 11 Bill Richardson 4 Joe Biden 2 Dennis Kucinich 1 Chris Dodd 1 Mike Gravel * Other 1 No opinion 5

Oct
18
2011

Attention Fox News, Reuters: Mitt Romney Is Funding OWS!

The New York Times has an interesting profile today (10/18/11) of a retired Wall Street trader named Robert Halper who, it turns out, made an early donation to Adbusters to help with the Occupy Wall Street movement: Mr. Halper, who lives on the Upper West Side, had long been a supporter of the magazine, donating by his estimate $50,000 to $75,000 over the last 20 years since he was first attracted by the magazine's spoofs on corporate logos and advertisements. So he wrote a check for $20,000 and returned to his life in New York. Interesting. But the Times clearly […]

Sep
20
2011

Rick Perry, Job-Creating Rodeo Cowboy!

The front page of USA Today (9/19/11) tells us that Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is taking "the heat," but not to worry–he says he can handle it. That's especially true with reporters like Susan Page on his side: He's not worried, he said, because only one issue really matters to Americans in this election. It's the one he plans to ride first against his Republican rivals and then against President Obama. Jobs. "I'll be asked about a hundred different issues a thousand different ways," he said in the interview Friday, one of only a few he has done since […]

Aug
26
2011

Ron Paul Top Tier Shakeup!

There is little reason to care about what the polls say right now about who's leading in the Republican presidential nomination. But the media obviously think otherwise, hence this headline in the Washington Post yesterday (8/25/11): Romney Loses GOP Front-Runner Status The "news" is that Rick Perry is leading in a new Gallup Poll. But read a little further: The survey showed Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 13 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) slipping to 10 percent. No other candidate registered in the double digits. So this means Paul's in the "top tier" now, right? This is a good […]

Aug
15
2011

Weeding the Field: Press Declares "Top Tier" GOP Candidates

As we've said plenty of times before, one of the main jobs of campaign journalists is winnowing the field of candidates– which must come as a relief to voters who don't want to have more of a say in the process. Before the results of the Iowa straw poll rolled in this weekend, there were pieces about whether anyone should pay attention to the event in the first place. Most reporters are willing to admit that paying so much attention to an elaborate popularity contest where the candidates pay voters to participate is a little odd. The lesson for readers […]

Aug
09
2011

Politico's 'Obama to Destroy Romney' Piece Is, Well, 'Weird'

There's a lot of chatter–and presumably more to come–about this Politico story today (8/9/11): Obama Plan: Destroy Romney By Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin August 9, 2011 04:29 AM EDT Barack Obama's aides and advisers are preparing to center the president's reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney's character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee. It's a safe bet that the Obama campaign, being a political campaign, will engage in some pretty rough stuff. But this piece makes it sound like something terrible […]

Jun
13
2011

June 2007 Flashback: The Clinton/Giuliani Election

I noticed a few stories in today's USA Today (6/13/11) about supposed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. There will be plenty more of this to come–horserace commentary based on polling that's being done in order to give journalists a reason to talk about one candidate more than another, which candidate has "momentum" and so on. It's worth remembering that the polling at this stage of the race is useless. Actually, it's probably worse than that, since the political press corps obsesses over this trivia at the expense of doing any actually useful reporting about the candidates. I wanted to find a […]