Commentary by James H. Shott
The experiences of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week illustrate how the media fail to provide adequate, objective and balanced coverage of serious campaign issues.
Campaigning in Colorado last week, Mr. Romney gave an interview to a local TV reporter, no doubt wanting to talk about his ideas for combating the horrible economic conditions, the need for jobs, and other weighty problems that threaten the nation.
The reporter began by asking about Mr. Romney’s inability to connect with Colorado Republicans, and following his 24-second answer then moved to same-sex marriage. Mr. Romney gave what he said was the same answer to this question as he has given from the beginning. The reporter then asked follow-up questions on that same subject. After two minutes of questions and answers on same-sex marriage, the reporter then asked if illegal aliens should receive in-state tuition. And then after that she asked Mr. Romney about medical marijuana.
So, given the opportunity to interview the likely Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States, a local reporter spends three minutes of the four and one-half minute interview asking about social issues.
Mr. Romney had about all he could stand, so he protested, since medical marijuana, same-sex marriage and tuition for illegals are neither the most important issues facing the nation, nor something about which a President of the United States should be concerned, since they are state issues.
And, indeed, there are obviously more important issues needing attention, such as the $16 trillion national debt that runs to $50,000 for every one of the more than 300 million Americans. How about the highest corporate tax rate in the world that makes U.S. corporations less competitive in the world market? How about the 16 percent of American workers – about 13 million, all together – that can’t find a job at all, or are underemployed? What about a nuclear Iran, and the mess in Afghanistan? How about the fact that the Democrats in charge of the U.S. Senate have shirked their obligation to pass a budget for three straight years?
None of that seemed important to the reporter, but she finally did get around to asking questions about energy.
While the Colorado reporter was focusing on less relevant topics, the intrepid investigators at The Washington Post were busy looking into Mr. Romney’s high school days, searching for archaic dirt. And, they found some.
Some of the former governor’s high school classmates from 1965 said that he had indulged in boyish behavior, and one incident allegedly involved forcibly cutting the long blonde hair of a boy a year younger than Mr. Romney, who the classmates said may have been gay. If true, this was clearly wrong and indefensible. But it was nearly 50 years ago in high school, and appears to be an isolated incident. Yet, The Post thought it was important enough for 5,000 words starting on page 1 above the fold. And since then these allegations have “evolved” into proof that Mitt Romney was a homophobic bully. He also is accused of pulling classmate Susie Jones’ hair in the third grade.
The Post’s crack investigators successfully found this 47 year-old story about Mr. Romney (13 times longer ago than the last budget passed by our Democrat-controlled Senate), but gave little attention to Barack Obama’s history with former members of the Weather Underground and his admitted “enthusiastic” drug use, and were unable to find any information about his mysterious college days, including his grades, his formal papers, his days at the Harvard Law Review, his friends, etc.
Some people’s past apparently deserves closer scrutiny than others. You can understand why The Post might regard Mr. Romney’s past as more important: he’s running for President.
It is relevant to note that the family of John Lauber, the victim of Mr. Romney’s alleged brutish haircut, is appalled that their relative would be used for political purposes. His older sister, Christine, was unaware that Mitt Romney, or anyone else, “bullied” her brother, who passed away from liver cancer in 2004, but she was clearly not pleased by the story. “Even if it did happen, John probably wouldn’t have said anything,” she said. “If he were still alive today, he would be furious.”
“The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda,” she said. “There will be no more comments from the family.”
The treatment of Mitt Romney in 2012 and the treatment of Barack Obama in 2008 couldn’t be more different. In the Romney story, an unproved allegation of bullying gets front page treatment from The Washington Post, but admitted drug use, et al, by Barack Obama goes virtually unreported.
By emphasizing peripheral issues like same-sex marriage, illegal alien tuition, medical marijuana, and high school behavior, the liberal media distracts attention from President Obama’s dismal record on the critical economic problems. And in the attempt to discredit Mr. Romney, The Washington Post story denigrates John Lauber’s memory and upsets his family, presumably because of its obligation to inform the public. Well, about some things, anyway.
Cross-posted from Observations