Time's Headline Contrast: Romney's Disappointing, Obama's Full Of Courage and Truth

Is Time’s presidential coverage biased? Check out these headlines from the new edition today: "Barack Obama’s Inconvenient Truths" and "Mitt Romney’s Disappointing Campaign." When you read the actual articles, the contrast is even starker. Reporter Karen Tumulty touted Obama: "Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them." Columnist Joe Klein blistered Romney: "the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing...there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act."

Joe Klein, who had his own turn ogling Obama on the campaign trail last fall, emphasized how Romney has no courage:

In fact, when Romney slowed down and focused on a single issue — immigration — at a press conference in Dover, N.H., the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing. He has flipped on immigration, to better suit the Mexican-fearing tendencies of a segment of the Republican base. He's against the comprehensive reform bill being considered by the Senate, and, of course, that's because the bill would offer a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegals currently in the country. A reporter asks, What would you do about them? Make them get in the back of the line. Would they have to leave the country to do that? Mumble mumble evasion. Would you be in favor of kicking them out? Oh, no, not that. Then what would you actually favor? "I'm not going to lay down a posture different from the others being considered." Interesting: Romney takes postures, not positions.

Klein concluded that Romney's had one liberal-pleasing idea on health care, but he needs to show more conservative-displeasing courage. In other words, all would be much better for Romney if had the courage to spread Joe KIein's convictions:

I suspect that Romney would be a better President than the current occupant of the office. He actually got along with Democrats, some of the time, as Governor of Massachusetts. He passed a universal health-care plan that, more generously funded, could be a model for a national system. But there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act. It's a candidacy for the era before 2001, before things got serious.

At least Klein is treated as a columnist -- except, in classic blurry "news" magazine tradition, when he's not, like that sprawling Obama cover story I mentioned earlier. Karen Tumulty, on the other hand, is supposed to be a reporter, but in the case of Obama, she's merely writing "conspicuous candor" blurbs for Obama campaign packets

Presidential-primary politics tends to be played like a game of connect the dots, with all the would-be nominees running from interest group to interest group, knowing and delivering precisely what each constituency is expecting to hear. Unless, that is, the would-be nominee happens to be named Barack Obama. Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them.

It may not be all that unusual for a Democrat to castigate automakers in an environmental speech. But when Obama did the castigating, it was in front of the Detroit Economic Club. Nor did he help his chances of winning the endorsements of the city's big unions by asserting that any aid Washington gives the automakers for their soaring health-care costs should be tied to improving fuel efficiency.

"We anticipated that there weren't necessarily going to be a lot of applause lines in that speech. It was sort of an eat-your-spinach approach," Obama conceded when I asked him about the stony silence that greeted his address. "But one thing I did say to people was that I wasn't going to make an environmental speech in California and then make a different speech in Detroit."

That kind of conspicuous candor has been part of Obama's campaign since his announcement tour in February.

Does Tumulty seriously believe that Barack Obama has never given a speech in the last year that contradicts another speech before another audience? Or that he's never fed red meat to the Left? Reporters are supposed to be a bit more skeptical than that.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis