Romney boots reporters from Newseum event, media critics debate nature of irony

June 14, 2012
Category: Uncategorized

Politico | The Washington Post
Mitt Romney’s campaign kicked reporters out of an event at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum on Wednesday night. Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone’s tweet about the news stresses its irony: “a combination of circumstances or a result that is the opposite of what is or might be expected or considered appropriate [an irony that the firehouse burned].” (Webster’s New World, Fourth Edition, definition 3)

This led to a bit of a smackdown from Politico media reporter Dylan Byers, who while allowing that the “optics” of this action weren’t ideal, wrote that it represented the “status quo”:

In this case, the campaign was merely providing the guests with an opportunity to have an off-the-record conversation with the candidate. Reporters were allowed to cover the 30-minute speech, which was on the record, and then moved out of the room.

That would be definition 4a: “a cool, detached attitude of mind, characterized by recognition of the incongruities and complexities of experience.” Byers then asked a very un-Politico question: “So why is it newsworthy?” (Driving the afternoon on the Politico homepage right now: a story about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contention that Romney “should tweak message.”)

Which brings us to definition 2: “the contrast, as in a play, between what a character thinks the truth is, as revealed in a speech or action, and what an audience or reader knows the truth to be: often dramatic irony.” (See also: previous attempts at media criticism by Politico.)

Writing in The Washington Post, media reporter Erik Wemple notes that the event was organized by Business Roundtable, whose own rules, not the Romney campaign’s, prohibit press from attending its sit-downs.

“What a convenient policy for Romney, Obama and the nation’s business leaders,” Wemple writes.

What a timely illustration of definition 1a: “a method of humorous or subtly sarcastic expression in which the intended meaning of the words is the direct opposite of their usual sense.”

The Newseum tweets that the Romney campaign rented the facility for the event, and that “Public events at the Newseum are always open to the news media.” Marty Baron, editor of The Boston Globe, responded by pointing out the irony (see definitions 1 and 3):

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