It's trapping season. The targets are Republicans, whom the Democratic-friendly media (the trappers) hunt in order to smear -- especially the Romney-Ryan ticket -- forcing them off message.
The bait in the latest case is the issue of abortion in cases of rape. The hunter's target was Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, who is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Chuck Todd raised the invoked former President Bush and Hurricane Katrina from seven years ago as potential embarrassments for the Romney campaign as Hurricane Isaac heads toward New Orleans the same week as the Republican National Convention.
During a discussion of the GOP convention being delayed from Monday because of the hurricane, Todd asserted that "the sort of shadow of Bush and Katrina does hang over this convention" and also worked in Todd Akin as he observed:
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, as the panel discussed the substantial attention the media devoted to Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's claim that forcible rape victims rarely become pregnant as opposed to Vice President Joe Biden's "chains" gaffe, two recent studies by the Media Research Center -- parent organization to NewsBusters -- were cited. Host Jon Scott cited MRC analyst Scott Whitlock's study from Tuesday:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos opened his Sunday show: “Good morning and welcome to This Week. Storms brewing. The GOP convention threatened by Tropical Storm Isaac and that political hurricane from Todd Akin...”
Over on CBS, guest Haley Barbour scolded Bob Schieffer who had wondered how Republicans get the focus “back” onto the economy? Barbour called Schieffer out for his obsession on Akin: “If your first four questions are about it [Akin], it’s kind of hard getting the subject back on the economy when you want to talk about Todd Akin.” Oblivious to his role in deciding what is newsworthy, Schieffer lamely pleaded: “I want to talk about the news.”
With astonishing regularity, media voices that won’t spend more than a minute examining Barack Obama’s support for keeping sex-selection abortion legal, or his opposition to a law guaranteeing equal treatment for children born alive after failed abortions, chime in feverishly when a Republican lawmaker speaks inaccurately about abortion and rape. Representative Todd Akin’s remarks prompted a CNN headline that abortion is now at the "center" of the 2012 campaign. If CNN means a full debate on the issue, so be it, despite this unfortunate entry point. More likely, there will be little real debate.
Rape is a grievous crime, always and everywhere, and the burdens imposed on women so assaulted dissuade many even from reporting the crime. Pregnancy does result from rape. Some women (more than we recognize) are able, through acts of unfathomable grace, to bear children conceived in so terrible a way. These women are heroic. Their children — read anything on the subject by remarkable people such as Ethel Waters and Rebecca Kiessling — are heroic as well, speaking to a world where political advantage, not profound compassion, is cherished first.
On NBCNews.com's "First Read" Kelly O'Donnell attempted to further tie in the Romney-Ryan campaign to Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments with this gasp-inducing headline: Ryan backed more than one 'forcible rape' abortion bill.
In the article, O'Donnell made a substantial deal out of the term "forcible," seemingly implying that if there wasn't much violence during the rape, then it would be more "acceptable," and/or if the rape wasn't "forcible," then the woman is out of luck if she wanted an abortion:
Minnesota Democratic State Rep. Kerry Gauthier has had a rough go of it lately. Embroiled in a sex scandal that has attracted the attention of national media outlets, Gauthier has gone from waging a promising reelection bid for his seat, to being caught engaged in oral sex acts at a rest stop with a teenage boy, to pulling out of the race and facing possible expulsion from the Minnesota legislature.
Gauthier does have one place in which he can reliably look for cover on this story however – CNN.
Relying on Todd Akin's sense of decency has not worked. Within hours of his idiotic comments about "legitimate rape," Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS pulled out millions of dollars in funding for the Missouri Senate race. Akin didn't get the hint.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, withdrew all funding from the Missouri race. Akin still refused to quit.
Is the New York Times trying to change the subject from the bad economy to social issues, for Obama's sake? On Thursday Michael Shear (pictured) and Jonathan Weisman did their best to tie controversial comments by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin to Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan: "Romney Strategists Say They’ll Stay the Course Amid Focus on Abortion."
Mitt Romney’s campaign advisers have concluded that they do not need any major adjustments in strategy to respond to the new focus on abortion and reproductive rights caused by Representative Todd Akin, betting that their candidate’s economic message will still resonate with female voters after the controversy over Mr. Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape.”
The media obsession with a gaffe by Congressman Todd Akin continued on Wednesday and Thursday morning. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts and morning shows offered five additional segments, bringing the amount of coverage to a massive 96 minutes (and 45 segments) over three and a half days. The disparity between Akin and gaffe-prone Vice President Biden's "chains" controversy from last week is now five-to-one.
The massive amount of coverage is obviously favorable to the Democrats, a point Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos underlined: "Mitt Romney hoping to shake off those controversial comments from Congressman Todd Akin about abortion and rape. President Obama and his team doing everything they can to make it stick."
Eager to keep the Todd Akin controversy alive on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared the Missouri Republican's comments were "inflicting unforeseen and great damage on the national party." Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by proclaiming: "...only days before their convention, Republicans remain trapped in a national debate about abortion and rape." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell quickly attempted to link vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to Akin: "Ryan co-sponsored one bill with Akin that critics say could outlaw all abortions, even for rape victims." She then tried to connect Mitt Romney: "Romney once supported abortion rights, but reversed course before his first run for the White House. In 2007, he embraced anti-abortion activist Dr. John Wilkie, the man who came up with the discredited rape theory that Akin was citing."
NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno had a suggestion Wednesday for how the Republicans can get Missouri Congressman Todd Akin out of the Senate race for comments he recently made concerning rape.
"Bring in Comcast - they'll get him out of there” (video follows with transcript and commentary):