National Review editor Rich Lowry has been granted space for a column in the liberal Politico newspaper/website, and he's not mincing words. On Wednesday, his headline was "The media's terrible trip."
"During his overseas trip, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, traveled to some of our closest allies accompanied by some of his most merciless enemies — the media. If you don’t know that Romney’s foreign jaunt was the worst diplomatic fiasco since the Zimmermann telegram or the XYZ Affair, you haven’t been reading his press clips," he wrote. Politico reminded readers that was its spin by advertising within Lowry's piece: "Also on POLITICO: Mitt needs veep to replace flop."
What really defined the week for Lowry was how the press reacted in Poland as they worked overtime to underline their own Gaffe-a-Minute narrative:
In Poland, when a few reporters shouted thoughtlessly hostile questions at Romney near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they nicely encapsulated the tenor of the coverage. A Romney aide, Rick Gorka, told them to “shove it” — an apt sentiment given the traveling media’s performance throughout the week. The press can say, like it or not, it simply played its role. Which is true — if it’s supposed to be querulous, unfair and self-obsessed.
Notice the steadily diminishing quality of the Romney miscues. The Romney trip started with the candidate supposedly offending an entire nation; it ended with his traveling press secretary offending three reporters.
No matter. Gorka got nearly as much play as Lech Walesa, the legendary Polish human rights activist and former president, who, unaccountably, endorsed Romney despite his gaffe-plagued foreign trip. Walesa must not be following the twitter feeds of enough American journalists.
The shouted questions were instructive — all emanating from deep within the media’s own narrative. There was: “Do you have a statement for the Palestinians?” Then, there was: “What about your gaffes?” Finally, that original follow-up: “Do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?”
Seriously, we send people to journalism school for this? Why not outsource the work to Media Matters and be done with it?
My favorite part of this is the notion that somehow tough questions for Romney are what "the American people want," as if that's what they've ever given Barack Obama:
One anonymous reporter told POLITICO’s Dylan Byers that after the indignities of the European trip, “This is rough and tumble now. There are going to be tough questions — the American people want that.” Yes, the American people can’t wait to hear Romney’s answer to how he feels about his gaffes and other similarly penetrating questions.
Lowry says the media are the polar opposite of a group of Texas ditto-heads:
Despite all the conservative energy devoted to monitoring and critiquing media bias, it may be worse than ever. Why? The answer goes back to Romney’s comment in Jerusalem: the enduring importance of culture.
Imagine if a cadre of journalists were recruited to cover the Obama campaign from 100 devoted Rush Limbaugh listeners living in the 230-mile corridor from Midland to Amarillo, Texas. Imagine they were overwhelmingly traditionalist on hot-button cultural issues and heavily evangelical, owned five firearms each and largely socialized with one another and other conservative Republicans.
They could try their damnedest to be fair to the president whose politics they disdain. Still, their own predilections would inevitably show through.
In the real world, journalists tend to have the opposite of all these qualities, and on top of them are usually self-important and willfully blind to their own biases.
It’s a wonder they aren’t told “shove it” more often.