MSNBC ‘essentially’ ran ‘a voter suppression campaign’ against GOP during 2012 presidential election, says author

Jamie Weinstein | Senior Writer

By tarring conservatives as racist during the 2012 presidential campaign, MSNBC “essentially” mounted “a voter suppression campaign,” says the author of a new book on media bias.

“Some of the quotes I have in ‘Spin Masters’– you might remember them if you watch a lot of MSNBC — still make me cringe,” David Freddoso, author of the recently released book “Spin Masters: How the Media Ignored the Real News and Helped Reelect Barack Obama,” told The Daily Caller.

“For example, Chris Matthews asserting that conservatives were giving Romney a long leash (ideologically speaking) because they are racists, I mean, come on — what kind of political commentary is that? That was essentially a voter suppression campaign, to tar conservatism and shame conservatives out of participating in politics.”

Despite egregious examples like that, Freddoso said most of the anti-Republican bias in the media was not intentional, but rather the product of the “liberal bubble world in which most journalists live — especially in New York and Washington.”

“When you’re a liberal, and 90 percent of your colleagues are liberals, and the only exposure you have to conservative thought is perhaps a few cranky Internet commenters or people who dog you on Twitter, it skews your perception of political opinions — of what’s mainstream and of what real people think about,” he said.

In the near term, the media bias problem faced by conservatives will persist, Freddoso said, so the GOP will have to field smart and persuasive candidates.

“[W]hen you field mush-heads for office, you’re just giving them and the political opposition an opening,” he said.

“There are too many Todd Akins running for office and winning primaries and raising money just by claiming to be the most conservative mush-head. As we saw with Akin, they give an already hostile media further opportunity to attack and to make one man’s stupidity into a viral propaganda campaign that spread to other races as well.

“Republicans have recently tried nominating idiots for office — I mean both establishment idiots and conservative idiots — and it hasn’t worked out very well,” he continued. “It’s one thing to lose a race because you chose a conservative, but you never want to lose because you chose an obvious dim bulb to represent your party.”

Check out TheDC’s full interview with Freddoso about his book and what he sees as the media’s liberal bias below:

Why did you decide to write the book?

I’m always saving and categorizing noteworthy stories I read — essentially taking notes — just in case they prove useful later. In this case, the moment I figured I’d have to write something about media bias came on September 12 or 13. I was sitting next to Washington Examiner writer Phil Klein, who remarked in disbelief that the story about Benghazi — a huge story about Obama over-promising and under-delivering on Middle East policy — was being turned into a story about a Romney gaffe.

I began looking back also at other things I thought had been somewhat ridiculous — the media’s adoption of the phrase “War on Women,” for example, and the bizarre fascination with a contraceptive ban that no one actually seemed to be advocating — and wondered whether there might be enough material for a book. So I didn’t really start writing until after the election, but I had nearly everything outlined.

Did you begin writing before the campaign was over? It came out so fast.

Yeah, no kidding. But when you’re talking about liberal media bias, it pretty much writes itself. Well, now you know how I spent my nights, weekends, and Thanksgiving after the election.

Do you believe the media deliberately sought to help Obama with its coverage — or was it an unintentional bias?

There were a few egregious and deliberate breaches of professionalism in some quarters. Some of the quotes I have in “Spin Masters”– you might remember them if you watch a lot of MSNBC — still make me cringe. For example, Chris Matthews asserting that conservatives were giving Romney a long leash (ideologically speaking) because they are racists, I mean, come on — what kind of political commentary is that? That was essentially a voter suppression campaign, to tar conservatism and shame conservatives out of participating in politics.

But for the most part, no, I don’t think there’s a conscious effort to tilt the news as much as a liberal bubble world in which most journalists live — especially in New York and Washington. When you’re a liberal, and 90 percent of your colleagues are liberals, and the only exposure you have to conservative thought is perhaps a few cranky Internet commenters or people who dog you on Twitter, it skews your perception of political opinions — of what’s mainstream and of what real people think about.

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.

Do you think the media is more infatuated with Obama than other Democrats? And if so, do you think the degree of the media bias problem for the GOP will lessen once President Obama leaves office?

Yes, they are more infatuated with Obama. But if “less infatuated” means mere Bill Clinton levels of slobbering and boot-licking, that’s pretty bad, too. You know they’re going to love Hillary again if she runs. And look at how they covered even less sympathetic Democratic characters like John Kerry and (gasp!) John Edwards, even as he was fathering children in both Americas.

Is there anything the GOP can do on its own to mitigate the media bias problem?

For the near future, conservatives just have to accept that they’re going to be held to a higher standard, and use that fact as a motivation to make better arguments and be smarter about their strategies. The last chapter of “Spin Masters” is devoted to this theme. If you have center-right views, you’d better have your facts down cold, because you can’t just get away with repeating talking points that someone else gave you. That’s often enough for the other side, but it’s not enough for you.
And yes, media bias is terrible, but when you field mush-heads for office, you’re just giving them and the political opposition an opening. There are too many Todd Akins running for office and winning primaries and raising money just by claiming to be the most conservative mush-head. As we saw with Akin, they give an already hostile media further opportunity to attack and to make one man’s stupidity into a viral propaganda campaign that spread to other races as well.

Republicans have recently tried nominating idiots for office — I mean both establishment idiots and conservative idiots — and it hasn’t worked out very well. It’s one thing to lose a race because you chose a conservative, but you never want to lose because you chose an obvious dim bulb to represent your party.

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