Fox News and the conservative alternative media (bloggers, talk-radio hosts, etc.) seem to have found common cause, much as has been the case for some time on the left. Since the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries, Fox News has been awash in coverage of anyone but Mitt Romney. Figuring most prominently are the wall-to-wall appearances of Newt Gingrich who is allowed to make his case and defend his positions. Just before the Iowa Caucuses, however, the head honcho of Fox, Rupert Murdoch, took a different tack with what was supposedly his first excursion into the world of Twitter: “Can’t resist this tweet, but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum. Only candidate with genuine big vision for country.” The consistency here of course is that almost anyone but Mitt Romney is the one that Murdoch, Roger Ailes et al would choose.
To all of this we add the glowing comments, again primarily about Newt Gingrich, from talk radio as well as the blogosphere. Rush Limbaugh (his defense of Mitt on the Bain issue notwithstanding), Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham. Every single member of this illustrious group has jumped into the tank with Gingrich, joining these writers and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and Erick Erickson, among others, who lead the “anyone but Romney” crowd. Just as one example of the problems we are seeing, Malkin and others continue to assert that Mitt supported the auto bailout, which I have already pointed out can be easily verified as blatantly false.
We expect such partisanship from ABC News, who hardly a week ago was comparing Mitt to Gordon Gekko. This week ABC now seems all too happy to report on the millions that Mitt has given to his church. While they are “simply reporting the news,” as they would no doubt say, somehow the silly irony cannot possibly have escaped their attention. Gordon Gekko is the last person who would be giving millions to his church. This would of course require that the fictional character have one to which he could give, something which would never have entered the imaginations of the authors (Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser) who brought him to life in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Add to that the millions Mitt “parked” in the Cayman Islands, and we get a quick perception of where ABC News stands on this election. Finally, Jake Tapper of ABC News recently served up three situations to add meat to the anti-Mitt grinder, which got picked up by the conservative blogosphere. We can only imagine how things might have been different if they had paid this much attention four years ago to the background, friendships, and activities of our current president!
With the efforts of ABC News, support by Fox of their current favorite “not Romney,” the blogosphere alight with anti-Romney sentiment, talk radio blasts of anti-Romney comments non-stop, why should anyone be surprised that the polls are showing Gingrich pulling ahead in South Carolina? His excellent debate performance on Monday was vintage Newt, but can that really explain the entirety of his surge?
With the non-stop coverage of Gingrich by Fox, Megyn Kelly seemed taken aback at a panelist who said:
[Gingrich] is the worst messenger we could ever have. He’s a rich, old, fat white guy. […] Well, he was condescending to Juan Williams. I mean, Juan has a good point: Look, folks, I mean we’ve got the 99 percent versus one percent and the Democrats are smart to try to make that happen. And Newt Gingrich is the worst deliverer of this message ever because he is saying, you know, he’s talking about blacks and poor whites should be janitors. It’s just not a good message. It’s insensitive.
After arguing that Gingrich’s past really does matter, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post writes:
This, of course, is the argument against Gingrich that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have implicitly raised: With Newt, it is always about him. The party (should he be the nominee) and the country (should he make it to the Oval Office) would be at the mercy of his whims, his rhetoric and his undisciplined intellect (in which speed and quantity overwhelm good judgment and quality). He’s the Pigpen of politics, surrounded by a cloud of dust of his own making.
As is Gingrich’s style, you can bet he will claim martyrdom on this, rail at the mainstream media for bringing it up just before the election and contend he is being brought down because the “establishment” is afraid of him. Puleez. The origin of every Gingrich controversy (ethical, personal or political) is the same: Huge ambition unmoored to a code of conduct or fixed principles.
After supposedly debating whether to air the interview with Marianne Gingrich before or after Saturday’s primary, ABC News has decided to do the right thing by putting out the transcript today and airing the interview tonight. By the way, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News said that to air “the interview so close to the South Carolina primary was an ‘ambush’ on Gingrich.”
We will see what effect, if any, all of these revelations will have on how things turn out. What I am hoping is that conservatives will be able to see in the not too distant future is a return to sanity in how it reports the news. Ratings for networks are their lifeblood and controversy for writers, talkers, and bloggers brings them an audience, but bias is just as ugly on what has been the “fair and balanced” side as it has been with the mainstream media for way too many years now.
As for what it all means, I really like Hugh Hewitt’s summary of the situation. Given that he is a long-time supporter of Mitt’s, we will have no problem imagining which candidate is the answer to the question that he poses:
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will argue that they can move those numbers mightily, that they can raise the money and build the networks, and most importantly, take on the president on the issues and crush him in the debates, and perhaps they can.
But if your life, the lives of your family, your fortune and future prospects all depended on the data before you, and you knew how the media would be aggressively assailing whomever is the GOP nominee, which candidate would you support? Got an answer? Then ask if your answer would be the answer of a majority of voters in those 13 states.
Let’s hope that their answer is the same as Hugh’s and mine!