Politico hits Washington Post for ‘more voyeuristic than relevant’ Romney bullying story

Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei’s look at media bias carefully lays out Republicans’ case that the press is unduly biased toward President Obama and against Mitt Romney: “The New York Times has given Obama the longest wet kiss in political history, and they have done him a favor again,” Haley Barbour tells the reporters about Trip Gabriel’s story on Ann Romney’s equestrian pursuits. Allen and VandeHei note that stories about Romney’s wealth and cruel teenage pranks land on newspaper front pages, while stories about Obama’s pot-smoking run on interior pages. They also suggest that the media doing those stories at all is a problem: “The press never ran probing, sneering stories about candidate Obama, and yet The Washington Post and New York Times are on overtime covering who-cares stories about Mitt Romney,” Ari Fleischer tells them.

The Times gets to rebut: “Despite what some people in both Chicago and Boston might think or hope, we’re not part of the communications strategy of either the Obama or Romney campaigns, and if they are looking to us to play an assigned role, they’re going to be disappointed,” political editor Richard Stevenson tells Politico in an email.

Jason Horowitz’s Washington Post story about Romney’s teenage hijinks, though, gets an unusual treatment from Allen and VandeHei:

The reality is that presidential nominees get every chapter of their lives exhumed and prodded – and should. And The Post story, by Jason Horowitz (“Romney’s pranks could go too far”), alleges more than harmless hijinks: It reported that Romney was part of a group that held down a kid they believed to be gay and chopped off some hair, an incident several involved said they feel ashamed about until this day.

But the 5,500-word account was invested with far more significance than it merited, and is more voyeuristic than relevant to assessing Romney’s readiness for office.

The question of story placement in print products is a little surprising since if we voracious news consumers have learned anything from websites like Politico, which is owned by the same company that owned my former employer, TBD.com, it’s that on the Internet, every story has a fair chance at becoming a huge “talker.” But I also think it’s fair to look at how Politico played the Romney pranks story.

Some may see hypocrisy here; I merely see Politico fulfilling its mission to aggressively and thoroughly cover the stories of the day, no matter how voyeuristic or irrelevant they may be.

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  • Anonymous

    It wouldn’t be hard to count the number of stories the Times did on these, usually in defense mode. Just recently, an article stated just as fact that Wright’s comments were taken out of context. Which isn’t true. His “chickens come home to roost comment” looks even worse if you print the full passage, or the whole sermon.

  • Anonymous

    “Wet kiss?” I guess that’s one way of putting it.

  • Anonymous

     If you don’t remember the countless stories on Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Bill Rezko the media dragged out for months and months, you must have been living under a rock.

  • Anonymous

    if that’s true, then why do even conservative gops quote them routinely as sources of information?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GAAH7VRO37HO7C6EIMX4TVIKWY Jon

    anyone who believes that the Post and the Times are neutral is an idiot. They are extremely partisan — just unwilling to admit their bias. 
    I loved the Romney hit job. I especially appreciated the they published it the day after Obama announced that he supported gay marriage.
    I covered a campaign speech by John Kerry once, back when he ran against George Bush. kerry practically read the New York Times to his audience. “The Times says the the government hasn’t bought enough flu vaccine and thousands of elderly people might die,”  “The Times says that huge supplies of munitions are missing in Iraq,” “The Times says ….” and so on.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, his AUTObiography, as in, he got to choose what to tell us.

  • http://twitter.com/HotCornerBlues Gary

    “The reality is that presidential nominees get every chapter of their lives exhumed and prodded – and should”

    Gottta call BS on that. The news media have given Obama a total pass on his background. Hell, they were dumpster diving in Alaska to get dirt on Sarah Palin who was only a VP nominee.  WaPo, NYT, etc are fundamentally a corrupt media wing of the Democratic party.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=583458310 Ron Hayes

    President Obama is now running for re-election. We all read about his pot-smoking–and his cocaine use–during the 2008 campaign; and the reason we read about it is because HE wrote about it first, in his autobiography.
    Gov. Romney, on the other hand, is a first-time GOP nominee for president. And what’s significant about the bullying story NOW is his reaction to it: First he claims not to remember it at all, then he says that if it did happen, it was not homophobic, and then he says, well, if anyone’s offended (insert rote non-apology).

    The teenage hair-cutting may not be relevant. The adult candidate’s reaction certainly is.

    And isn’t it amusing that marijuana is famous for causing short-term memory loss, yet Obama clearly remembers all those tokes, but Mitt Romney, a tea-totaler, can’t recall holding down a screaming classmate and cutting his hair, even though three of his classmate remember it well?

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

     Thanks, that was a mistake, now fixed. Here’s the link: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76898.html

  • Anonymous

    Your link does not go to the Politico story you describe, as far as I can tell.