How does this bubble-world journalism shape the political narrative?
Let me just offer two examples of how the bubble-world has skewed media perceptions. First, recall the total failure to take the lawsuits against Obamacare seriously. The media’s blithe dismissal of the legal challenge was nearly as intense as the abject panic that suddenly broke out when they realized (after Supreme Court oral arguments) that the law was hanging by a thread. Nothing about the case had changed — it’s just that reality briefly forced its way into liberal bubble-world. (We’ll probably be saying the same about this recess appointment ruling that was handed down on Friday.)
Another example was Romney’s victory in that first debate — a rare case where the Republican benefited from liberal media bias. The Obama campaign’s misrepresentations of Romney’s positions were pretty much adopted wholesale by the mainstream media. So Obama was just blindsided when he found himself standing opposite the man himself instead of the straw man he’d been excoriating for so long. Obama had been shielded by the media coverage until that moment. When the media filter was off, he became the victim of his own propaganda success.
How do you respond to those who will say that blaming Romney’s loss on media bias is just whining, that if Romney were a better candidate he could have overcome any bias against him?
I don’t think we can say that Romney’s loss can be blamed entirely on liberal media bias, and I don’t say it in “Spin Masters.” I do think it’s a problem that we have to ask that question in the first place. And we really do have to ask it.
Just assume Obama would have won anyway. The point is that journalists, supposedly eager to sell their souls for a story, were not so much when it came to stories that might have made Obama look bad or his presidency look like a failure. There was a notable lack of journalistic curiosity about major trends that might have changed the way people viewed his first term.
Did you think the media was harder on Romney than George W. Bush during his two presidential elections? If so, why? If not, what was Bush able to do to overcome the bias that Romney wasn’t able to do?
Why limit it to Bush’s elections? They still let Obama get away with blaming Bush for everything, aren’t they? He’ll still be blaming Bush seven years into his presidency, mark my words.
I’ve never been a big fan of Bush, really, but you have to admit they had it in for him, too. The scandal that ended Dan Rather’s career came about because no one in the CBS newsroom loved the truth enough to double-check something Rather and his aides really, really wanted to be true. They did themselves in. Romney never suffered anything quite that ridiculous, but the drip-drip was really impressive. I did compare the numbers to McCain’s coverage in 2008. The chief difference was that Romney won a debate, so he got a lot of positive coverage for that. When you look at the period before that happened, Obama’s share of positive coverage was about double Romney’s, and the share of negative coverage for Romney was about 63 percent higher, by Pew’s measure.