How painfully predictable: The New York Times filled the news gap caused by the cancellation of Monday's events with rumors of party discord. In fact, the Times first tried to gin up controversy at the 2012 Republican National Convention long ago. Here's a May 13, 2010 report from Damien Cave on how toxic beaches in Tampa might ruin the Republican convention, then over two years away:
The wrong mix of poverty juxtaposed with Republicans partying - perhaps against a backdrop of oil-stained beaches – could give Democrats just what they need to portray their opponents as woefully disconnected from the middle class."
Cave was talking about the potential aftermath of the BP oil spill. Remember the BP oil spill?
To further the idea of party discord, the Times greeted the official opening of the convention Monday by heeding the wisdom of Dan Quayle, not previously heralded as a sage in the newspaper, by making him the Quotation of the Day: "The philosophy you hear from time to time – which is unfortunate – is one of exclusion, rather than inclusion." (The quote originated in Adam Nagourney's Monday front-page story, "A Party of Factions Gathers, Seeking Consensus.")
Which brings us to Tuesday's lead story from Tampa by Jim Rutenberg and Michael Shear, "As Storm Disrupts Plans, G.O.P. Takes Up Tensions – With First Day of the Convention Canceled, Frustrations and Dissent Bubble Up." There may not be oil-stained beaches, but there is a weather event threatening the convention from the coast, and the Times predictably employed what is now Hurricane Isaac against the convention.
It was supposed to be the start of their four-day effort to sell Mitt Romney to the nation, but Monday instead proved to be a day of frustration for Republicans as the delay in beginning their convention deprived them of their national stage and brought a fresh airing of intraparty tensions.
As Tropical Storm Isaac brushed past the convention here Monday, it moved slowly on a more dangerous path toward New Orleans, growing stronger by the hour. Forecasters on Monday afternoon predicted that the storm would land somewhere in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane, just as Republicans were set to kick their gathering into high gear.
The Romney campaign’s decision to postpone most events for a day because of the storm deprived the party of the carefully prepared convention script that was to keep a super-tight focus on Mr. Romney and a still tighter lid on discord.
But the drama the Times uncovered didn't seem all that dramatic or worthy of a lead story:
But supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas expressed frustration over what they said were efforts by Mr. Romney’s aides and supporters to silence their voices in the convention hall. They were goaded along by Mr. Paul, who has declined a speaking slot, accusing the Romney campaign of trying to control his message.
And supporters of Representative Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate who lost much of the party’s support after his comments on “legitimate” rape and pregnancy, revived Tea Party-infused arguments against the “establishment” wing of the party, saying Mr. Romney and “party bosses” had abandoned him after his remarks.
All of it unfolded before a restless audience of about 4,500 delegates and 16,000 journalists left with little to do but stare at television screens covered with images of Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast, a haunting reminder of Hurricane Katrina -- and, in this context, the political damage its aftermath caused to George W. Bush.
In an instance of bored journalists filling the news gap with condescending silliness, look to Romney campaign reporters Michael Barbaro and Ashley Parker: "On a Day Off for a Storm, Republicans Try to Keep Sharp."
The first day of a hyper-scripted convention was canceled here, and thousands of restless Republicans and reporters were stranded in the swamps of Tampa with 24 hours to kill.
So what happened? Did young congressmen skinny-dip in Tampa Bay? Did the Republican National Committee run up an obscene tab at the Mons Venus strip club? Did Ron Paul supporters storm out of the state?
No, they did not.
In today’s strait-laced, square-seeming party, many used their sudden vacation day for some serious self-improvement.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio hit the stationary bike and free weights at a Gold’s Gym for an hourlong workout with his wife, Jane.
Greg Rothman, a top aide to Rick Santorum, went for a seven-mile run, and along the route heard a honk: there was Ralph Reed, the founder of the Christian Coalition, behind the wheel of a car. Mr. Reed invited him to return to a Marriott Hotel for a chat about the state of conservatism.
The GOP just can't win with the hostile Times: Either they're hypocritically hitting the strip clubs or they are being "squares" through self-improving exercise.