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You could make a pretty good argument that the media was soft on Mitt Romney. In fact, I may do that here soon. In the meantime there is this excellent piece by Matt Tiabbi.

Right or wrong it’s all over now. Or is it?

You’d have to be some kind of left-wing conspiracy nut to think the slew of “what-happened” writing over Romney’s complete failure to win a universally-acknowleged “for the GOP’s taking” election was somehow biased toward Romney. But it still IS.

The simple truth is the press is ignoring the most basic reality of the election: the results.

What I mean by this is there is no way the results we saw in Wednesday’s election (GOP House re-elected, Democrats picking up some new Senate seats, Obama winning) are possible without millions of GOP “split ticket” ballots. It is that simple: had everyone who voted mostly Republican NOT rejected the top of the ticket, Romney would have won.

The demographics shifted, the GOP message needs to be re-evalutated, the list of “reasons” continues to fill the airways. But the real reason is not being discussed: millions of Americans voted Republican for everything BUT the presidency (and rejected bad choices for the Senate.) Not just millions: a majority. To quote Bill Clinton, it is arithmetic.

The American electorate didn’t reject GOP ideals or reject the GOP because it was less old, male & white. For some reason (subject for another blog), most Americans actually WANTED to vote GOP but rejected Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan’s ugly and small campaign. The math is simple … split decision = split tickets.

So of course there isn’t a single national news outlet talking about this:

Is the press still soft on Romney? You be the judge.

Paul Ryan handily recaptured his Wisconsin seat in Congress, but was rejected by his home state on the presidential ticket. These were not Democratic voters, these were Republicans who couldn’t stomach Romney/Ryan. The same thing was repeated on a national scale, so let’s be very clear:

Obama would have lost the election if GOP voters hadn’t voted FOR him: GOP party-line voters switched, and switched millions of times.

The fact is that Romney could have won if he hadn’t run such a sloppy, cynical and mendacious campaign. The voters rejected Romney and Ryan, Not the GOP. Consider this anecdotal evidence from the North Carolina News Observer:

Larry Harrington Jr. owns a restaurant called Larry’s Southern Kitchen in Garner. Harrington, who is African American, said the economy has taken a toll on his business, and that weighed heavily on his mind as he considered who to support for president. He ended up voting Democrat at the top of the ticket, but he broke with the party in a couple down-ballot races and said he’s still unsure whether Obama can lead economic recovery better than Mitt Romney.

“It really felt like a toss-up,” Harrington said. “I think Obama deserves a chance, but maybe Romney does too. I just went with my gut feeling.”

(my emphasis)

Will this story get mentioned in the media? Stay tuned…

Two screeen shots from this morning:

I probably wouldn’t have noticed this without the help of @NYTJim’s twitter feed (Jim Roberts is an assistant managing editor of The New York Times), since I had earlier posted a link to this story with a self-satisfied sneer at the MSM for getting it wrong:

Suddenly this popped up on my feed:

Of course I went back to the story to revel in my satisfaction that ONLY the Times had got this right. Imagine my surprise to find the exact opposite was true. What was the editor talking about?

Then I noticed the timestamps hadn’t changed.

I’m going to back-date this post (to same time as their original post, see date on RSS feed only…) to show how easy manipulating this can be — did the New York Times falsify its post to cover its ass?

Obviously I can’t say with any certainty … unlike the MSM, we’ll have to wait for confirmation. So far, @NYTJim isn’t replying to my tweets!

More as the story develops…


Having detractors is one thing —
but don’t make the “kick me” sign YOURSELF.
(Image by Fred Gates, click through to see more)

By now you have probably seen something on Team Romney’s misspelling of “America” in their mobile app.

This was quickly ridiculed and became a legitimate news story, and rightly so. It is a BIG screw-up, especially by a campaign that is trying to float the nonsense that Obama “doesn’t understand America.” Well, at least he can SPELL it.

While this was making the rounds from news shows to The Colbert Report, it seemed to me that another story was being missed: that there were serious issues with the app that had little to do with an outsourced and/or rushed headline.

In fact, these problems had nothing to do with technology at all — and everything to do with strategy.

What happened next confirmed my thinking: late-comers to the party (like myself) started using the corrected app to make (what we hoped was) pithy satire. The #withmitt hashtag on twitter was crowded with “Amercia” jokes and anti-Romney images generated from the app, rendering it basically useless to the campaign. (The hashtag was created by Mitt’s team so that people could see the images people made with the app.)

A fair question to ask here would be “what the hell did you think would happen?”

The truth is this is truly bad management: Romney’s pitch to America is that his way of running businesses can right the economy — yet his campaign decisions so far are questionable at best (and we aren’t even discussing Donald Trump).

Just as any schmuck running for dog catcher would know to forcefully distance himself from Trump’s birther insanity, any blogger with more than three readers knows that they should moderate comments.

Strangely, the Romney campaign thought that “crowdsourcing” their message with a handy app that lets you sabotage the campaign merge any picture you like with their slogans is somehow a good idea for them. More likely, they didn’t think about it at all.

Is it fair to critique the Romney campaign based on their app?

Regarding the “Amercia” gaff, Andrea Saul, a campaign team member said: “Mistakes happen. I don’t think any voter cares about a typo at the end of the day.” Maybe, but shouldn’t we ask why the “With Mitt” app only does one thing — take photos with campaign slogans on them?

This was done on the cheap, and I’m talking about strategic thinking, not dollars spent.

Team Obama isn’t making these mistakes. The far less mischief-inviting “Obama 2012″ app is better in other ways as well: it offers supporters real information: news updates, campaign videos, curated pictures of campaign volunteers, and text messages from the campaign. This may not be reinventing the wheel, but it does engage Obama supporters rather than just trying to hang a sign on them. In short, it is smart. More specifically, it was based on a discussion of what an app might actually provide to supporters, not some vague impulse to “have something out there.”

Whether the Romney campaign was sold a bad idea by “experts,” under-budgeted the app, or just has a hands-off style of management, none bode well for the campaign’s central argument.

If Mitt Romney can’t manage this without screwing it up royally, can he really make the “superior manager” argument to the American voter?

Postscript:

It’s not just detractors that can take a campaign off message.

If you think this is isolated, you might want to read my next post. I’ll discuss Romney’s FaceBook “design a campaign t-shirt” contest. Yes, they are really doing THAT.

Extreme? The press is all too willing to ignore something Santorum said ... and this image is a perfect representation of exactly that.

It’s time for a quick comprehension quiz. Read the following and answer by multiple choice. Don’t worry, you only need a seventh-grader’s comprehension of history and reading:

1) Analogies
I’m giving a speech on the challenges facing our country today, and I am running for president.

I begin by comparing the current political climate to America just before WWII, talking about how American citizens did almost nothing to stop the fall of Europe to fascist rule because Americans are a “hopeful people” who didn’t immediately realize just how dire the threat was. I describe the attitude this way:

“We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This will be OK.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all.”

In this analogy, I am comparing:
a) Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler
b) Myself to Adolf Hitler
c) The audience to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, and by extension to “appeasers” of Barack Obama
d) A and B.
e) None of the above.

The correct answer is, obviously, A. While technically D is also true, it relies on an implicit understanding of A. Simple, right?

Not so much. The supposedly “liberal” media has all but failed to parse this simple analogy. It’s author? Rick Santorum.

Imagine the firestorm that would have erupted if any of the Democratic challengers to George W. Bush had even hinted at the idea that a connection could be made to their efforts to unseat the president and stopping Hitler. If Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had been stupid enough to engage in such outrageous rhetoric, the would rightly be vilified and their campaigns would come to an abrupt and permanent stop.

Not so with Santorum.

The press seems satisfied with a simple “no” answer here, and is completely ignoring what was actually said by Santorum. A Google search for News items referencing “Santorum, Hitler” shows how little traction this is getting. A few passing references, usually framed as a “did he?” question, a few stories that he denied the analogy, and it’s back to the business of sports-style “who’s on top?” reporting.

This is outrageous.

Before moving on, watch the actual speech by Santorum. It’s extremely hard to make the case that he is talking about anything else. To paraphrase Ed Shultz of MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” perhaps Santorum at least needs to explain to the American people who he is IS referring to as a bad guy Americans ignored for as long as they could before WWII. Of course Santorum could never do this, because the reference and the implications are obvious to anyone who looks at the clip:

 
Why is the media ignoring this?

One thought is that the MSM is becoming squeamish when it comes to truly outrageous or ugly comments by candidates. I’ve covered a similar blind spot when John McCain objected to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because “we have soldiers with no legs.

Basically, media outlets fear a backlash for seeming to editorialize outrageous statements by simply reporting them. This isn’t something I made up; the New York Times famously asked its readers if they should even bother parsing candidates’ comments, as if understanding objective truths (or in this case, objective interpretations) is somehow a “soft” goal that should be approached with some caution in order to not appear “biased.” The title of the piece is instructive: “Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?”

So: just reporting something is now being a vigilante? I’m old enough to remember when it was just called “reporting.”

There is another possibility: Godin’s Law.

Applied to the Tea Party and the far-right wing of the Republican Party, it would be only a matter of time before a candidate for America’s highest office would use a Hilter analagy to describe a sitting president. Santorum’s previous extreme rhetoric also seems to be a factor, and even he used it as an excuse — essentially saying “hey, I do this all the time,” which, it turns out, he does.

But whatever the reason — whether fear of seeming biased or not seeing the reason why THIS particular extreme opinion of Santorum’s needs to be understood, discussed and not ignored — the MSM has essentially failed here.

It is outrageous and completely outside the bounds of acceptable discourse to imply the president is somehow “another Hitler.” It is even MORE outrageous that a front-runner for the same office can say PRECISELY that and get away with it.

If the press could be sued for malpractice, this outrage qualifies. In a rational world, Santorum would have already left the race in disgrace. That world would be one where the press actually did its JOB.

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