The MSM has been trying to nominate a progressive/liberal/centrist/moderate/or maverick Republican presidential candidate since the days of Nelson Rockefeller — in other words, ever since the Republicans stopped doing it to themselves. The MSM hasn’t had much luck, though it made a decent run at it in 2000.
But 2008 (including 2007) may well be the MSM’s year. That’s because the two leading Republican contenders, McCain and Rudy Giuliani, arguably fit somewhere in the progressive/liberal/centrist/moderate/maverick continuum. At a minimum, both take liberal positions on several issues that many conservatives deem vital.
Right now, the MSM faces only one obvious obstacle — Mitt Romney. Of the major figures committed to running on the Republican side, only Romney takes the conservative position on all major issues.
This explains, I believe, the relentlessly negative coverage he’s received from the MSM. Usually, the MSM likes a horse race.
Read the whole of Paul’s early prediction, and then read the transcript, or listen to my hour-long interview yesterday with Time’s Joe Klein, on this very subject of MSM’s growing anti-Romney animus. In his column this week Klein flipped flopped from a Romney admirer to a Romney basher on the laughably suspect grounds that (1)Romney, the best informed candidate of the viable candidtaes on the war (Senator McCain knows the war, but is finished as a candidate), wasn’t serious enough about it, and (2)Romney’s objection to the Senate’s immigration bill was a reversal of Romney’s endorsement of the concept of regularization in 2005. Klein also resents the fact that Romney speaks rapidly and has a great television presence.
In short, Klein delivers another example of exactly what Mirengoff pointed too four months ago –a collective shudder among the MSM at the prospect of yet another conservative GOP nominee who could keep the White House in Republican hands. Joe got testy when I called him on his transparent Hillary-McCain shilling, his backflip on Romney, and his dismissal of folks like Victor Davis Hanson, Bernard Lewis and Mark Steyn –anyone, in fact, who sees Iraq as one battle in a vast war between the West and jihadism, a view which Romney holds and defends at every turn. Joe and the MSM generally have enjoyed decades of their ex cathedra utterances from Manhattan or the Beltway being protected from criticism by editors and the lack of a feedback loop through which either the center-right or the public could respond. Technology and new media have destroyed their insularity and now they indulge the myth –Joe did it in our interview– that criticism from the left and right means they must be mainstream when in fact it just demonstrates that their MSM liberal bias doesn’t satisfy the fever swamp and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny from the center-right.
Klein’s column and the other anti-Romney attacks are the best indication yet that Romney is emerging as the strongest conservative in the race. That key signal may be enough to encourage some of you to sign up at MittRomney.com or at least to throw a few bucks his way as a kind of thank you for scaring the Beltway-Manhatten elites.
As I discuss at length in A Mormon In The White House, Romney does scare these elites for many reasons, including the traditional strengths a tax cutting, pro-defense Republican puts on the table when it comes to electability. But there are four other reasons which make Romney uniquely a target for MSM ire.
First, his resume shreds theirs, even by their own standards. The MSM gang with its collective Ivy roots and confident dismissal of the judgment of those not initiated early on into the mysteries of the Bos-Wash axis confront in Romney a guy who beat them at their own meritocratic games. Like a drum in fact. Romney prospered behind the MSM enemy’s lines, from his Baker Scholar credential out of HBS through the years of rising in the east. Born and raised in the heartland by a man who didn’t finish college, Romney kept his midwestern values even as he climbed every east coast ladder. Romney knows his MSM enemy very, very well as a result, but he didn’t go native.
Second, he’s had a media training second only to Hillary’s because of the intense scrutiny the Olympics experience exposed him too. (Having the Globe on his heels for the past dozen years or so was pretty good training as well, but nothing like the full court press of the international press from ’98 to ’02.) I have a section in the book on the media lessons Romney took away from Salt Lake City, and he’s using those lessons now. Klein et al can’t get a rise out of him, and they won’t.
Third, he’s wealthy beyond their experience (which adds not only fear but no little envy to their growing anti-Romney animus). My sources for the book put his wealth at over a billion, but recent reports say that he will report control of only a quarter or so of that amount. Either way he will have the ability as a nominee to counter late hits by the Sorospeople.
Finally, he’s a square. Right angles at every corner. There won’t be any scandals, no toeholds for the MSM eager to lend a hand to Hillary in the stretch run. Yes, there are vulnerabilities in Romney’s background, which I detail, but they won’t be of the sort the which MSM counts on to bring their favorite charge of “hypocrisy!.”
Paul Mirengoff’s had the MSM’s number five months ago, which of course hasn’t stopped the MSM from playing their game, and won’t stop the next seven months worth of anti-Romney stories, or the 10 months of anti-Romney stories after that if he’s the nominee.
But the early diagnosis of Romneyitis among the MSM will reduce the effectiveness of an already much disestablished media elite’s attacks. In fact, each new one will give more conservatives reason to approve of Romney and laugh at the old guard trying harder and harder to be once they once were –significant.