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Via Pat Dollard’s twitter feed:
— Patrick Dollard (@PatDollard) December 22, 2012
Reviewing the 2012 presidential campaign, here are five ways the media elite tipped the public relations scales in favor of the liberal Obama and against the conservative challenger Mitt Romney:
1. The Media’s Biased Gaffe Patrol Hammered Romney: The media unfairly jumped on inconsequential mistakes — or even invented controversies — from Romney and hyped them in to multi-day media “earthquakes.” Case in point: the GOP candidate’s trip to Europe and Israel in late July. A Media Research Center analysis of all 21 ABC, CBS and NBC evening news stories about Romney’s trip found that virtually all of them (18, or 86%) emphasized “diplomatic blunders,” “gaffes” or “missteps.”
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer blasted the news coverage in an August 2 column, calling the trip “a major substantive success” that was wrapped “in a media narrative of surpassing triviality.”
Similarly, when the left-wing Mother Jones magazine in September put out a secretly-recorded video of Romney talking to donors about the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, the networks hyped it like a sensational sex scandal. Over three days, the broadcast network morning and evening shows churned out 42 stories on the tape, nearly 90 minutes of coverage. The tone was hyperbolic; ABC’s “Good Morning America” called it a “bombshell rocking the Mitt Romney campaign,” while ABC “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer declared it a “political earthquake.”
None of Obama’s gaffes garnered that level of coverage. After the president in a June 8 press conference declared that “the private sector is doing fine,” the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts gave it just one night’s coverage, then basically dropped the story — nothing further on ABC’s “World News” or the “CBS Evening News” in the weeks that followed, and just two passing references on the “NBC Nightly News.”
And, when Obama infamously declared, “You didn’t build that,” ABC, CBS, NBC didn’t report the politically damaging remark for four days — and then only after Romney made it the centerpiece of a campaign speech.
2. Pounding Romney With Partisan Fact Checking: There’s nothing wrong with holding politicians accountable for the honesty of their TV ads and stump speeches, but this year the self-appointed media fact-checkers attacked Republicans as liars for statements that were accurate.
For example, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter writing for PolitiFact branded VP candidate Paul Ryan’s convention speech anecdote about the closing of the General Motors plant in his hometown as “false,” even though Ryan was correct in all of his details. The slanted review became TV reporters’ talking points; the next day on NBC, correspondent Chuck Todd grumped that while what Ryan said “was technically factual, by what he left out, [he] actually distorted the actual truth.” Matt Lauer greeted Ryan the following week in an interview on Today: “There are some people who are claiming that you played a little fast and loose with the truth….”
The same thing happened when Mitt Romney talked about Obama’s “apology tour” during the final presidential debate. While in 2009 Obama had, in fact, criticized the United States as “arrogant,” “derisive” and having “too often… set [our] principles aside,” the networks said to call it an “apology tour” was “false” because, as CNN’s John Berman tenuously insisted, “even if he was critical of past U.S. foreign policy, he issued no apologies.”
Writing in the New York Times August 31, correspondent Jackie Calmes scolded that “the number of falsehoods and misleading statements from the Romney campaign coming in for independent criticism has reached a level not typically seen.” That’s not true, either; Romney’s team was, at worst, guilty of highlighting those facts that best illustrated their points (something done by all politicians), and the Obama campaign certainly put out their share of tawdry TV ads and dubious campaign claims.
But with “truth cops” who mainly policed just the GOP side of the street, the media used “fact-checking” as another club to tilt the playing field in favor of the Democrats.