Almost as soon as word leaked that Mitt Romney had chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, liberal reporters stepped forward to help define the Wisconsin congressman as too conservative, a heartless budget-slasher who might repel as many votes as he might attract to the GOP ticket. Chris Matthews, for example, on Saturday derided Ryan as someone whose plan “really screws the people who desperately need Medicare and programs like that.”
The script is always a little different, but the trend is always the same. The Media Research Center has monitored campaign coverage for 25 years, including the media’s reaction to four Republican vice presidential selections: Dan Quayle (1988); Jack Kemp (1996); Dick Cheney (2000); and Sarah Palin (2008). While most of the candidates usually received initially positive introductory coverage, in each case journalists quickly pivoted to emphasizing the attack lines pushed by the Democratic campaigns.