Yesterday Boston Phoenix reporter David Bernstein e-mailed with a request for an interview concerning my new book and my thoughts on the Romney candidacy generally. I agreed provided that Bernstein would conduct the conversation on air. The result was an extended conversation with an experienced reporter from the left –an easy, candid conversation about the media and the campaign ahead. Here is one segment I found interesting, though the entire transcript is worth a look:
HH: David, when we went to break, you’d asked me about the Mormon thing. Before I do that, I want to go back to the issue about Romney’s evolution on life [issues]. You’ve covered Hillary, and you’ve covered Governor Romney. So my question is who’s changed more on the issue: Romney on life, or Hillary on the war, and in what period of time?[# More #]
DB: Well, it’s a fair question, and I’m not here defending Hillary. As a matter of fact, I’ve bashed Hillary about a fair amount myself. She has, I think, changed positions on the war, and changing positions on something I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. And I think that the…that when someone changes positions, like we were saying before, I think that the question for a voter becomes, you know, if the candidate is changing towards where you stand on the issue, the question becomes is this just something that they’re saying and not really believing? How do I know that there’s an integrity behind that, a sincerity behind that? And I think that’s the question that some people are asking about Mitt Romney.
HH: And so when you see…do you see the mainstream media, of which your are a corollary. The Phoenix is almost MSM, but it’s avowedly lefty in most of its positions.
DB: So close.
HH: So close.
DB: We’re so close to mainstream.
HH: Could be so far, but so close. So do you think the mainstream media has covered Hillary’s flip-flop on the war in anywhere near the detail or with the intensity that they have covered the alleged change of position by Romney, although it’s been awfully consistent for many years?
DB: No, I…I think that they have covered Hillary’s difficulty with the war position. I mean certainly, in her early campaigning, I mean, I certainly wrote about her difficulty with the Democratic audiences that she was meeting with in New Hampshire, and I saw that others were, too. I think that she is being held to that same…
HH: Okay, we might…let me ask you about this. Do you think that the intensity of scrutiny on Obama has been the same as the intensity of scrutiny on Romney?
HH: Why not?
DB: Not yet.
HH: Why not?
DB: Well, I think that that’s a fair question.
HH: Well, it’s because the media’s overwhelmingly liberal, isn’t it?
DB: No, I don’t think that…
HH: Oh, David, don’t ruin your credibility. You don’t have to defend them.
DB: No, I don’t think…I think that you will see a great deal of scrutiny of Obama. I think that it has not happened yet. I think that some of it may have to do with…I mean, I think there’s a lot of things. I think you haven’t seen the kind of scrutiny of Giuliani yet that you will see.
HH: But Giuliani was in front of the New York media for eight years. That’s the toughest local beat in the world. Romney’s had you guys all over him, so the one who is least investigated and closest to the presidency is Barack Obama. And therefore, doesn’t that mean that the media ought to be drilling down on him? Because you know, Romney’s been vetted for a long time.
DB: I agree that Obama should be vetted, absolutely, and he should go through the wringer, and he will be. I think that he absolutely will be.
HH: But why not, again, since we already know most…everything you know about Giuliani has been in the newspapers a hundred times, we’ve got Youtube videos, ditto with Romney, McCain’s covered to death, Hillary’s got like a 24/7 watch on her and anything she says. Why does Obama get a free pass? I suggest if you’ve got to limit all the alternatives, there’s got to be a reason, is that the media’s in love with him, and they want him to be president.
DB: Well, I don’t think that’s the case, but we’ll see. If over the next several months there continues to be nothing investigative written about Obama, then we can assess it from there. I think that the media’s just getting started in assessing Obama. He’s very new to them, and they’re just getting started looking into him.
HH: But David, that’s…I’ve got to answer your question. We’ll keep coming back. I’m not stiffing you. But that just defies explanation when you’ve got this very interesting guy. We don’t know what he did in the legislature, we don’t know what his positions were, which by the way, were pretty run of the mill hard left in the Daley machine.
DB: I actually think that because I have to some degree looked into him, and I think a lot of that stuff has been looked into by the local press there, and by some of the Washington press, but I think that the trouble Obama’s likely to run into is that he is not as progressive on the issues as a lot of the early activist Democrats…
HH: Got a for instance for me?
HH: Got a for instance?
DB: Yeah, he’s pro-death penalty, there’s one.
HH: Oh, that is always…anything else?
DB: There’s plenty. There’s plenty of issues on business, on corporations, on…I’m not saying whether I agree with him or disagree with him on those issues, but there are a lot of issues where I’m telling you where I’ve seen him talking to audiences that suddenly find that…
HH: Okay, we’ll come right back.
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