NEW MEME: WHEN ROMNEY SAYS SOMETHING EMBARRASSING, IT'S THE MEDIA'S FAULT FOR LISTENING
You expect Jennifer Rubin, who clearly has a desperate desire to be Romney's C.J. Cregg or Ted Sorensen, to say that the fallout from Mitt Romney's "I'm not concerned about the very poor" remark is the media's fault, but the meme has spread to NPR as well.
Romney as the nominee will be flyspecked and criticized over every word. He needs to avoid actual gaffes. But he can't keep the media from editing out all the inconvenient parts of every sentence, paragraph and interview.... Perhaps a less crazed approach to covering Romney would restore their credibility.
The hosts of NPR's Morning Edition:
STEVE INSKEEP: Here's a view of the news media that's cynical but all too often true.
RENEE MONTAGNE: Reporters, it's said, look for stories that confirm stereotypes about people, and if you're a very wealthy presidential candidate with an elite background and a reputation for a tin ear, reporters will listen extremely closely to your offhand remarks about poor people.
First of all, as I said yesterday, it wasn't an "offhand remark," and Romney has said the same thing in the past. (The reporter whose story Inskeep and Montagne were introducing actually made the latter point.)
Second of all (I'm talking to you, Jennifer), Romney's point wasn't taken out of context. He really was saying that the very poor have it just fine, or would with a little tinkering we can do in our spare time.
But what's really toxic about this -- and Inskeep and Montagne are usually better than this (though Rubin obviously isn't) -- is that it suggests that we shouldn't listen to the words politicians actually utter, and we especially shouldn't listen if what they say confirms our impressions of them. How far should we extend that? If Newt Gingrich says something grandiose and bombastic, or Sarah Palin says something in an ill-informed and tongue-tied way, should we ignore it because it's not polite to pay attention when the character flaws we've detected in people who'd like to govern our country actually manifest themselves?
This isn't what these people are saying. Rubin, of course, is saying, "For the love of God, please vote for the guy I've all but openly endorsed, and pay no attention to any evil bastards who point out his flaws." But Inskeep and Montagne are saying that we must limit our attacks on the Republican Establishment's chosen standard-bearer for the party because suggesting that a leader of the GOP is beyond the pale rends the social fabric. As in an abusive household, it's always necessary to maintain the fiction that the leaders of the GOP are upright and respectable, not abusive or pathological or utterly lacking in empathy. We can't say there's something seriously wrong with them. These are the rules.