Journolist Redux? AP's Peoples and Politico's Summers Write Oddly Similar Stories on Ryan Avoiding Mention of 'Medicare'

August 16th, 2012 11:51 AM

Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press's Steve Peoples and Politico's Juana Summers could only find hundreds of people attending GOP vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan's Wednesday appearance at Oxford, Ohio's Miami University. Perhaps even more troubling is how they somehow chose an odd angle for their coverage, namely that Ryan has supposedly avoiding talking about Medicare in his stump speeches -- and both wrote "that changed" in describing its first mention.

It seems more than a little odd that two establishment press reporters from supposedly separate and independent media outlets both apparently focused for four days on when Ryan would mention the word "Medicare" on the campaign trail. Summers even made it her headline, while Peoples seemed to want to convey the impression that Ryan has been afraid to mention the word:


Paul Ryan uses the ‘M’ word

For the first time since he was minted as his party’s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan used the “M” word in his stump speech as he campaigned Wednesday night on the campus of his alma mater.

That is, he talked about Medicare, the federal health program for senior citizens that he has proposed - in the future - to turn into a voucher program for some people. For a candidate who shot to conservative fame because of his plan to overhaul the budget, and entitlement programs, any mention of Medicare had been conspicuously absent from his stump speeches.

But all that changed at Miami University of Ohio when Ryan declared that he welcomed a national debate on the issue.



Facing what is emerging as a defining issue, Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan on Wednesday invited debate over his controversial proposal to overhaul Medicare and predicted the GOP would win the argument.

... Romney named Ryan, a seven-term Wisconsin congressman, as his running mate on Saturday. Since then, Democrats have pounced on the plan he authored as House Budget Committee chairman to transform the popular health care system for seniors.

Over the past week, however, Ryan did not directly address the intensifying criticism - or even simply say the word "Medicare" during multiple campaign stops across six states. He addressed the issue in a handful of media interviews (on national TV, with audiences likely in the millions -- Ed.), but he avoided it while facing voters.

That changed Wednesday ...

From here, it seems that the odds of two reporters legitimately developing stories on their own coming up with such an odd theme -- and employing similar "that changed" language while doing so -- are very low.

By the way, if Team Romney-Ryan is trying to avoid bringing up Medicare, they have a funny way of showing it:

  • Ryan, in a Fox News interview with Brit Hume on Brett Baier's program Tuesday -- "'... we’re the ones who are offering a plan to save Medicare, to protect Medicare, to strengthen Medicare. We’re the ones who are not raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare. We’re the ones who are repealing President Obama’s 15-person bureaucratic board that will put price controls on Medicare that will lead to denied care for current seniors. We’re the ones continuing the guarantee of Medicare for people in or near retirement. And you have to reform it for the younger generation in order to make the commitment stick for the current generation. President Obama is actually damaging Medicare for current seniors. It’s irrefutable. And that’s why I think this is a debate we want to have, and that’s a debate we’re going to win,' he said." That's seven "Medicare" mentions in one statement.
  • Noted in Helene Cooper's New York Times coverage of yesterday's campaign events -- "The Republicans released a television commercial on Tuesday asserting that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan was better for older Americans."

Based on the oddly similar stories out of Summers and Peoples, it is not at all out of line to wonder whether personal or even Journolist-level collusion is still occurring in the Beltway-based press's presidential campaign coverage. The people in charge at the AP and Politico should be wondering the same thing.

Cross-posted at