Mitt Romney is running for president of the United States of America and in less than six months, citizens of this country will go to the polls to vote for whom they think has the best policies and who would do a better job of running this country. But there is one big problem: one of our presumptive candidates for president does not want us to know his policies or what he would actually do if he became president. Mitt Romney has told the American media to their faces that he will not talk about how he would run the country or what policies he would enact if elected -- and the sad thing is that the American media seems to have accepted it!
Mitt Romney has not appeared on one -- not one -- Sunday talk show during this entire presidential campaign season and not one non-Fox News cable news show. And no one seems to care.
To the media I ask this question: Name one, just one, presidential candidate in recent history who had not sat down for any Sunday talk shows or non-Fox related cable news shows less than six months out from a presidential election? Name me one!
Actually, what Mitt Romney does is pretty slick. He does all of his speechifying on the campaign trail and because the media is jonesing for anything that he says, they only report on what he says in these speeches on the trail. The magic in this is that Romney cannot be challenged or questioned during a speech, so when the media only reports on what he says during a campaign stop, they unwittingly repeat whatever falsehoods he utters thereby literally getting his message out for him with no back-up or challenge to his claims whatsoever.
In 2008, Barack Obama and John McCain were all over the news. They were both on Sunday talk shows, nighttime talk shows, daytime talk shows, Comedy Central (Stewart and Colbert), MTV, VH1, BET, Nickelodeon and everything in between. But this year, Romney has successfully neutered the media by only allowing them to cover what he wants them to cover and by only allowing them to ask questions he wants to answer.
A prime example of this happened just recently at a campaign stop in Florida where it was revealed that Mitt Romney's campaign gave instructions to the Secret Service to keep the media away from the rope line, apparently to keep them from asking Romney any questions. Now, this is usually the kind of thing that sets the media aflame, literally. Any other candidate would have been hit with so much dirt about doing something like this that he would have to immediately take a shower, but this year and with this candidate, the story hardly made a whimper.
The mainstream media has never looked as impotent as it does in this election cycle, chasing Mitt Romney around, picking up whatever scraps of information he deems worthy to throw out at them. Where are those 2008 investigative reporters that spent the better part of two months discussing nothing but Barack Obama's pastor at his church in Chicago? The heat became so hot, in fact, that Obama had to give a special nationally televised, carefully stage-crafted speech in Philadelphia to directly address the situation. By the way, isn't it funny that the media spent months in 2008 relentlessly pursuing a story about Barack Obama's church and his religious beliefs but for some reason, Mitt Romney's faith and church are off limits? Just asking...
This new phenomenon is what I'm now calling the "Romney Protection Radar": RPR! Whenever it looks like Mitt Romney may be attacked for something or someone may actually try to ask him a hard question, or someone may challenge something he flat out lied about, the RPR goes into effect.
For example, Romney recently held a press event in front of a factory in Ohio that was closed down back in 2008 (under George W. Bush), but Romney stood before the media and shamelessly blamed Barack Obama for the jobs that were lost. When someone in the media tried to challenge Romney's assertions, RPR went into effect and you have heard absolutely nothing about that story since.
Another example was when Mitt Romney repeated on several occasions that President Obama has made the economy worse since he took office. Romney said this at several campaign stops and it was only when a reporter called him out on the blatant non-fact that he then stated, "No I didn't say that." Yes, he actually said, "No, I didn't say that!" RPR went into effect and nothing more about that lie or that exchange was reported on again.
Romney has always been way ahead of the media on stuff like this. He started way back in 2006 when his staffers and aides actually bought their computer hard drives and wiped the computer servers clean of any emails and records indicating that Mitt Romney had ever even been there thus deleting hundreds of files from the Massachusetts Governor's office before the new Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, took office. Forgot about that one, didn't you?
The media have become such a non-issue to the Romney campaign that it has begun callously telling the media to their faces what lie they are going to tell and basically daring the media to challenge it. Mitt Romney recently told an interviewer flat-out that he planned to take "a lot of credit" for the auto industry recovery. Yes, he said it and then laughed in the reporter's face. This after penning an op-ed about letting Detroit go bankrupt and saying publicly that the government should not give money to the auto industry to bail them out. So, what did the media do with this display of all-out balls and gumption? They played Romney's souped-up explanation for why he deserved to take credit for the auto recovery but very few reporters made an honest effort to follow up on the reasons why he actually deserves no credit whatsoever. RPR!
Now, before anyone starts chirping the right-wing talking point that Barack Obama was not vetted during the 2008 presidential campaign, let me just remind you of something. Regardless of what anyone claims, Barack Obama was investigated up, down and all around in 2007 and 2008; so much so that people were literally getting on airplanes and flying to Africa (Kenya), Indonesia, Hawaii and Chicago to get any dirt whatsoever they could find on him. They went to his church, to his high school, to his college; they dug up his college thesis; hell, they dug up Michelle Obama's college thesis! They went back to his days as a state senator and U.S. senator and reported on votes he took and votes he did not take. They repeatedly asked is he Kenyan, is he Muslim, is he black, is he white, is he gay (yes, that was out there for a minute on some right-wing sites). I even remember seeing reports about how much his suits cost and people were actually interviewing the man at the Chicago barbershop who cut his hair. People researched his church, the hospital where he was born, his pastor, his wife (remember the infamous "Whitey" tape that never surfaced?), his mother, his father, his grandparents, his sister, his step-grandmother in Kenya, etc. So yes...regardless of what the Sarah Palins of the world have to say (and who is she to talk?), Barack Obama was, in fact, vetted thoroughly. Mitt Romney, not so much. It has actually gotten to the point where it looks like the mainstream media are somewhat afraid to delve into Romney's background and ask questions about his past for fear of some kind of reprisal from the Right.
FYI: It's just as fair to ask Mitt Romney about his past business practices at Bain Capital, his Mormon faith, not releasing his past tax returns (where are we with those again?) or jumping a fellow classmate in high school and cutting off his hair as it was fair to ask Barack Obama about his relationship with Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright or if he went to school in a Madrasa or if he was a Muslim or if he was actually born in this country (ugh!).
Mitt Romney is probably the most unabashed, shameless contender for the White House we have seen in a generation and the fact that there are millions of people out there ready and willing to give him the keys to the nation's social, economic and military well-being without much "serious" vetting is somewhat scary. Mitt Romney has figured out that if he just sticks to the campaign trail rhetoric, the media have no choice but to report on what he says, no matter how false, and the trick is that they can't question him about it because they can't interview him! Any other time in the past, a presidential candidate would be severely excoriated for blatantly ducking and dodging the media so close to an election (remember what a hard time the media gave the McCain campaign for trying to shield Sarah Palin from the media?) -- but not this candidate and not this media.
Unlimited cash and no shame is a dangerous combination and if our illustrious media wants to regain even a little bit of their dignity back, they will begin insisting that Mitt Romney is subjected to the same questioning, spotlight and scrutiny that past candidates for president have endured. People in this country count on the media to help us determine when someone is being truthful to us and when someone is flat-out lying. We count on them to help us determine who has the best overall credentials for leading our country. We count on them to lessen our fears about who we entrust with our very lives. In short, we count on them to save us from ourselves -- and for some reason, this year we seem to be on our own!