Networks Hype Idea of a Long GOP Primary Wounding Romney: 'How Can It Not Damage You?'

All Three morning shows on Wednesday hyped the idea  of a painful, wounding primary fight between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, pushing the concept of a "damaged" nominee. Today host Matt Lauer interviewed Romney and showcased a cartoon from the liberal New Yorker to make his point.

As an image of the two Republicans playing football appeared on-screen, Lauer pushed, "But if this goes on much longer and Newt Gingrich has said he'll go 46 more states with this, how can it not damage you?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos lectured the former governor: "You know, a lot of Republicans are starting to worry that a long primary fight, the negativity of a long primary fight is going to hurt the eventual nominee."

Citing polls showing an increase in Romney's negative numbers, Stephanopoulos fretted, "Are you worried about that? And how are you going to turn it around?"

The former Democratic operative turned journalist goaded, "So, do you think you have put those questions to rest about your personal background, your business background, your personal finances to rest?"

Over on CBS This Morning, co-anchor Charlie Rose perused the same talking points, needling, "Negative campaigning has been part- negative ads by super PACs. Do you think they have contributed to this debate, or do you believe that they may very well hurt you as you reach out for independents if you are the nominee?"

Lauer, however was the most obvious. He went out of his way to describe the New Yorker cartoon for viewers: "I want to put the cover of the New Yorker magazine up for our viewers to see and it shows President Obama watching what they call the big game. And what it is, is you and Newt Gingrich wearing the same team uniform just pummeling each other as the President smiles."

Matt Lauer's February 1 question to Mitt Romney, which aired at 7:07am EST, can be found below:


MATT LAUER: As I ask this next question, Governor Romney, I want to put the cover of the New Yorker magazine up for our viewers to see and it shows President Obama watching what they call the big game. And what it is, is you and Newt Gingrich wearing the same team uniform just pummeling each other as the President smiles. I know you have said that, that a long campaign like this does not divide you. It prepares you. But if this goes on much longer and Newt Gingrich has said he'll go 46 more states with this, how can it not damage you?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org