Politico’s not shy about its liberal bias – or about denying liberal bias. On Page 3 of its Monday paper, media writer Dylan Byers penned an article headlined “Blaming the Media’s Not a Winning GOP Game Plan.”
Byers strangely argued that since conservative pundits from Bill Kristol to Laura Ingraham have knocked Team Romney’s performance, “it is difficult to see how this past week’s rallying cry against the ‘liberal mainstream media’ – over the media’s criticism of Romney’s criticism of the president’s foreign policy and Obama himself – lasts beyond the current news cycle.” Surrender, Brent Bozell! Shut up about liberal bias, conservatives! Bow to Politico!
Of course, Byers is trying to argue that Republicans should stop complaining about liberal bias because GOP strategists like Kristol saying it’s “always a mistake” to rely on anti-media attacks. Byers quotes several conservatives whacking away at the press for its current tilt on foreign policy. But his article could really use a strong critique that the press isn’t just hurting Romney, it’s harming the entire American campaigning and governing process with its shoddy biases, its endless horse-race obsessions, and its nervous aversion to substance (especially on television).
Byers acknowledged that the conventional wisdom of the "Gang of 500" in the political elite agreed Romney was dreadfully wrong to engage Obama on the weak statement about hurting Muslim feelings that emerged from the Cairo embassy in an attempt to placate protesters:
If the “Gang of 500” was quick to come to the consensus that Romney had blown his response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities, the right was just as quick to go looking for evidence of a media conspiracy.
Within hours, the conservative blog Right Scoop posted video of CBS’s Jan Crawford and NPR’s Ari Shapiro on a hot mic, discussing the questions they would ask Romney regarding his attack on Obama — as if two reporters working to make sure their question would get answered was evidence of some grand plot to ruin the GOP candidate.
Naturally, Byers ignored our take that it’s okay for journalists to coordinate, but it’s sleazy to coordinate against the Republican candidate to ask the same question over and over and display no such aggression against the Democratic incumbent. Byers even stooped to quoting “Republican” strategist Steve Schmidt, currently parading as a Republican on the leftist channel MSNBC.
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt cautions against relying too heavily on the anti-media crutch.
“Every single presidential campaign — Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush — has to navigate this issue of bias with the media, and the first rule of navigating it is to understand that not every criticism is evidence of media bias,” Schmidt, the chief strategist for John McCain’s 2008 campaign, told POLITICO. “This is just part of the scrutiny that comes with running for president: Every day is playoff football, and you can’t always make the claim that the coverage is through the prism of bias.”
Another MSNBC Republican, Peggy Noonan, agreed that “charges of media bias were legitimate but indicated trouble for Romney’s campaign.”
This is a very nifty game for the media to play – “Don’t criticize us for being shameless Obama partisans! You’ll look like you’re losing!” It’s a classic “heads we win, tails you lose” argument.
Of course, Romney shouldn’t base his entire campaign on media criticism. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be forceful, especially in press interviews and press conferences, that journalists are doing a really poor job of playing fair. Newt Gingrich delighted conservatives with his strong media critiques.
Romney should go beyond that. Because behind every dramatically failed campaign promise of Barack Obama’s is a media elite that sold Obama far beyond his actual ability to be the political messiah they projected. They didn’t report on reality in 2008. They presented a fantasy, and now it should be coming back to haunt them.