News media congratulates itself for Paul Ryan pick

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Who can take credit for Mitt Romney's bold choice of Paul Ryan as running mate? Conservatives can thank Rupert Murdoch. Or maybe Bill Kristol. Not to mention "Old Washington Elites."

Howard Kurtz writes:

The irony here is Romney wasn’t the first, second, or third choice for this whole crowd -- Rich Lowry, Bill Kristol, Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, RedState’s Erick Erickson, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. ... Now the right-wing punditocracy is trying to salvage Romney’s candidacy through the addition of a man they regard as a real conservative. Which is why, at least for the moment, Rupert Murdoch seems happy. But as the coming weeks will make clear, satisfying Murdoch is a very different challenge than winning a closely contested election.

The news media can congratulate itself for one thing legitimately: It beat the Romney campaign to the announcement. NBC broke the news just after midnight, the network said in a press release. With that triumph, Dylan Byers writes, NBC's Chuck Todd joined an exclusive club:

The race to break the VP selection, a small matter for most Americans, has become one of the most obsessive contests in the world of political reporting. Reporters who have broke the news in elections past, including NBC's Andrea Mitchell (Dan Quayle '88, John Edwards '04) and CNN's John King (Lloyd Bentsen '88, Joe Biden '08), tout the scoops in their official biographies.

The Romney campaign announced Friday night it would make the announcement the next morning, complicating pool reporters' boozing and/or sleep plans hours before it screwed up waffle-making duties for their home-bound colleagues. Zeke Miller sketches a lovely scene after a Romney campaign press release emptied hotel rooms and bars in Norfolk, Va.:

Reporters also swarmed the lobby to try to spot any campaign aides, or just maybe, the running mate. Then it was the rushed walk to the event site in the shadow of the USS Wisconsin several blocks away, dodging police and advance staffers in a frantic search for any evidence that Paul Ryan would be joining Romney today. After campaign staffers complained, a Norfolk police officer threatened a group of reporters with arrest if they didn’t stop looking around.

So where were these dogged ship-sniffers back on Aug. 1, when Romney apparently made the pick? They were stymied by a watertight political operation and Ryan's ability to sneak through the woods. Something else that might have thrown off the bloodhounds? Lawyers who worked for free, Romney aide Beth Myers told Politico's Mike Allen, Ginger Gibson, and Maggie Haberman:

Volunteer lawyers working in a locked room in Boston were hired by the campaign to research the backgrounds and policy stands of each of the candidates, delving into the most sensitive personal and financial issues in public records and in extensive documents and questionnaires provided by the candidates. ...

No copies of the documents were made, and the room contained a safe where all of the papers were locked away every night, Myers said.

Once the word was out, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch did a marvelous job of packaging coverage of Saturday's announcement, Tharon Giddens writes in CJR:

There was good local color of the sort available in publications around the state, but Richmond’s paper offered more by putting its resources to good use and also making deft choices in wire content. The result was a pleasing package over two full pages inside, to bolster a lead story and a wire profile of Ryan out front.

And of course, it was time to figure out why Ryan didn't wear a tie. And to land the first TV interview with the ticket ("60 Minutes" did). And to edit Ryan's Wikipedia page.

Ryan's "Twindex," or Twitter Political Index, is through the roof, Twitter's Adam Sharp writes.

Both Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) tend to perform better in the Index than the candidates at the top of the ticket. But while President Obama (@BarackObama) has generally scored more positively than Governor Romney over the past six weeks, Ryan has most recently generated more positive sentiment than Biden.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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