Piers Morgan and Frank Rich Are Scared Romney Could Buy the Election

Liberal journalists Frank Rich and Piers Morgan have teamed up to bash conservatives before, and they raised new fears on Thursday that conservative "rich white men" could buy the election through super PACs. Rich admitted on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight he was "seriously worried Mitt Romney could buy this election," even though to date President Obama has raised more campaign money than Romney.

However, the media also have extraordinary power to influence this election on a daily basis. Liberal media bias may be a non-issue for liberals like Rich and Morgan, but the daily slant on campaign coverage from the three major networks and cable news could have a big hand in tipping the balance toward the Democrats this fall.

Rich's piece in New York Magazine is titled "Sugar Daddies: The Old White Rich Men who are Buying This Election." He wrote of 25 conservatives who had donated over $1 million into super PACs.

Morgan played right into his narrative as he fretted that Romney won the GOP primary chiefly because he "blew others out of the water financially." Many would agree with that assessment, but again, Morgan is overlooking liberal influences like the mainstream media and rich liberals like George Soros who use their money to further the progressive cause through various outlets.

"[H]as there ever been a time in American modern political history where the fate of a president has been so determined, some would argue, by straight cash through these strange institutions, the super PAC?" Morgan asked.

Rich also dismissed the claim that Obama has more financial influence than Romney since he's raised more money. "There's an apples and oranges thing going on," he said, noting that campaign fund raising differs from super PAC fund raising.

A transcript of the interview, which aired on April 26 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:02 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

PIERS MORGAN: But we begin with our big story, super PACs and the selling of the president. Joining me now is Frank Rich, whose latest piece in New York Magazine entitled "Sugar Daddies: The Old White Rich Men who are Buying This Election." And Frank joins me now. Frank, it's a fascinating piece.

FRANK RICH, writer-at-large, New York Magazine: Thank you.

MORGAN: These are basically the 25 leading conservative donors who have all contributed more than a million dollars into various super PACs.

RICH: The 25 that we know about because in some of these super PACs or PACs, you can remain anonymous. There's some that are called social welfare organizations. They really are very political. So these are just the ones we know about and just the ones so far when technically we're still not really out of the primaries.

MORGAN: I mean has there ever been a time in American modern political history where the fate of a president has been so determined, some would argue, by straight cash through these strange institutions, the super PAC?

RICH: In modern times, absolutely not. You know we know that people of wealth and corporations try to buy influence, and in both parties often. But this kind of wealth – first of all, there weren't even people this wealthy in real dollars. You know, Andrew Carnegie in real dollars didn't have as much money as some of these sugar daddies. And now there's the mechanism, legally through various rulings, not just Citizens United, that allows them to just give unlimited amounts.

MORGAN: The worst thing is, Frank, to me, I went on the trail interviewing all the candidates regularly, and so I wash up in, North Carolina or wherever it may be watching attack ad after attack ad after attack ad. It was like demolition jobs. And I was shocked. But what was clear to me was there were 10 times as many acting for Mitt Romney or on behalf of Mitt Romney or around the backdoor for Mitt Romney. And you cannot escape the conclusion that he didn't win the nominee just because he's the best candidate. He may well have been. He won it primarily because he blew the others out of the water financially.

RICH: Right. But also the demolition derby had blowback on him because the truth is that people like Adelson, Friess who now by the way are probably going to rally to Romney by supporting Santorum and Gingrich, and running negative ads about Romney, even though he ultimately triumphed, they have so damaged him that he has some of the worst positive poll ratings of a candidate at this stage of a campaign ever. He has negative ratings that are so high. So the same sugar daddies that are now going to try to help him destroy Obama really did damage to him when they were working for Santorum and Gingrich.

MORGAN: I mean Barack Obama is not exactly short of cash. He's out there fundraising. For March alone, he got $104 million in, Mitt Romney $10.1 million. Overall so far Obama nearly $200 million, Romney closing up on $100 million. Are these misleading, these figures?

RICH: They are. There's an apples and oranges thing going on. You have to think if you're watching this from outside and don't want to understand election law too much, it's like having a savings account and a checking account. So what the official campaigns are raising and the official Democratic and Republican parties are raising is different from this PAC money, which is so large and isn't counted in those ledgers, except by journalists who make rough calculations. So in some ways it's like – you can't really keep score in that way.

MORGAN: The premise of your piece is that you're seriously worried Mitt Romney could buy this election.

RICH: Mm-hmm.

MORGAN: Through these weird, unaccountable kind of super PACs. That's not good for American democracy, if that's what happens, is it?

RICH: No, it's very much a replay of the gilded age in the late 19th century when we had far fewer -- less regulation than we do now where plutocrats and people who were, you know, incredibly wealthy. Which is fine, they're entitled to be wealthy, represent their own interests in the -- in the polling booth by just, you know, pulling the trigger from afar. And they have special interests that are not always transparent to the voter and they'll try to collect the bill if their guy or guys and women get in come November.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014