Politico magazine media writer Jack Shafer is not your typical lefty media type, as demonstrated by his Thursday piece "Stop the Press Before It Profiles Beto O’Rourke Again." Shafer calls out his colleagues for overdoing the Beto "buzz," and then underlines his agreement with the conventional wisdom that O'Rourke's opponent Ted Cruz is a terrible human being.
Not since the press corps fell in love with Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign has such a sirocco of worshipful candidate profiles and commentaries appeared in the national press.
“Is Beto O’Rourke the Left’s Obama-like Answer to Trump in 2020?” asked Vanity Fair. “Beto O’Rourke Could Be the Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For,” offered BuzzFeed. Still more positive Beto coverage sprinkled the pages of Yahoo News, Time, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, the New York Times, Politico and Esquire as they worked off the same template. The Washington Post indulged Betomania with a feature, another feature, a column and the sort of ancillary coverage it ordinarily gives the Washington Redskins.
The media’s adoration for the three-term House member from El Paso knows a simple origin. He’s lauded and cuddled by reporters for the simple reason that he’s not Ted Cruz, the Skeletor of American politics.
He left out Town & Country, the magazine for snooty East Coast liberals. But you get the point. (See Becket Adams, who notes the secret of the Beto Puff Piece is to ignore O'Rourke's 1998 drunken car crash where he tried to leave the scene.)
Shafer noted the liberal Texas Monthly "took O’Rourke swoonery to its highest altitudes" in a piece titled “Will Beto O’Rourke Become President?” That article argued "even a loss in his Senate race might not diminish his political momentum."
O’Rourke has given reporters the easy contrasts that make political journalism write itself. He exudes youth (he’s 46). Cruz looks old (he’s 47). He makes reporters nostalgic for the 1960s by conjuring the spirit of Robert Kennedy, complete with the bangs, the teeth, the rolled-up sleeves, the paeans to the oppressed, the uplift and the liberal platitudes. Cruz comes armed with darker purposes—as if auditioning for a part as a Blue Meanie in an amateur production of Yellow Submarine.
Remember Cruz’s machine-gun bacon? Reporters got their fill of this sort of thing during Cruz’s 2016 campaign. If you were covering the Texas contest, wouldn’t you rather spend your time skateboarding at the Whataburger with O’Rourke than watching Cruz cook pig with a firearm?
Shafer's piece was too short to explore if O'Rourke might become this election cycle's version of liberal Democrat abortion advocate Wendy Davis, who lost with 38.9 percent of the vote in the 2014 governor's race despite buckets of East Coast liberal media praise. He could read that liberal rag Politico trying to argue "How Davis Wins by Losing."
How did that work out?