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The Globe on Romney and New Media

Sunday, December 31, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Last week I posted on the lead Mitt Romney has established in outreach to new media over the other two top-tier GOP candidates for the presidency, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.  Today the Boston Globe dutifully reports the story and even mentions the post in which I gave them their lede.

The piece is the first of many from old media on new media’s impact on the contest for the GOP nomination in 2008 and is generally well-reported, but four things deserve criticism in the Scot Helman article.

First, only two hyperlinks are included, to the Drudge Report and to John McCain’s hired blogging gun, Patrick Hynes’ AnkleBitingPundits.  Given that the Globe cites other bloggers, why not make it easy for the readers and provide the links?

Next, as the article notes, Mr. Hynes is a paid consultant to the McCain campaign.  Of course he routinely slams Romney and praises McCain on his blog.  Does the Globe really think this is news, or signifies anything of importance to the reader?

Third, after wrongly reporting a few months ago that I was a Mitt Romney supporter, today’s account includes this graph:

Hugh Hewitt, a popular conservative radio host and blogger friendly to Romney, lauded him last week for trying to seize the power of the Internet. Hewitt wrote, “Romney is setting the standard, and this is a crucial precedent for him to set: The GOP must have a standard bearer willing and ready to use the new media environment to push not just his candidacy but the ideas that bind the party together.”

Again the Globe is trying to push me into the Romney camp, for reasons I cannot understand.  Imagine my writing that “Scott Helman, a Boston Globe reporter favorable to John Kerry, has written last week that Kerry was well-received at the desk of Syrian dicator Bashir Assad.”  My guess is that Helman would object that he was just reporting and that his views on Kerry are irrelevant, and he would be correct.  I am friendly to Romney, but I am also friendly to Mayor Giuliani, Senator Brownback, Newt Gingrich and every other candidate for the presidency on the Republican side, including Senator McCain, except Tom Tancredo, whom I like personally but view as at best a distraction and at worse a party splitting, single issue fanatic.  Helman simply cannot accept that reporters in new media are just like reporters in old media: We have our likes and dislikes, but our reporting and analysis is done in exactly the same way as that  produced by old dying media.New Media’s work product is butressed by a transparency as to our ideological beliefs that old media resists because it would reveal that nearly everyone on the Globe’s reporting team is much more than “friendly” to Hillary and Obama, they are smitten by them and desperate to see Democrats back in the White House.

Finally, and this is the most serious criticism, there are these paragraphs:

But if Romney is seeing the promise of the blogosphere, he’s also experiencing its perils. A number of bloggers have attacked him for his recent shift to more conservative positions on social issues such as abortion and gay rights. On Friday, for example, a blogger in Washington circulated a Christian Broadcasting Network report that several Romney supporters in Michigan were reconsidering their endorsement.

Romney’s rivals are in similar positions, though. McCain has long faced hostility from some conservative bloggers, many of whom also blast the relatively liberal social views of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is considered another top-tier presidential prospect.

Where are the specifics?  Which “blogger” circulated the CBN report? Was it by chance Patrick Hynes, which would be a story in itself?  And which “conservative bloggers,” exactly, have shown hostility to Senator McCain and why?  Which have blasted Rudy?

Scot Helman is a nice guy and I have enjoyed speaking with him in the course of reseraching my book about Romney and the impact of Romney’s Mormon faith on his pesidential bid.   

But Helman, like all other old media reporters, can’t seem to get their arms around the new media environment in which specificty and detail matter a great deal.  If the “many bloggers” hostile to Rudy were cited, we could evaluate whether their “hostility” was of much consequence, and from there reason as to whether the conservative bloggers impressed with Rudy far outweigh the unnamed (and perhaps non-existant) blogger(s)’ criticisms.

And if Helman had dug around, it would have been interesting to discover if he could have found any well-trafficked conservative blog enthusiastic about Senator McCain’s bid.  The major story of early 2008 will be the unexpectedly thin support for Senator McCain among the GOP base, a reality that is hinted at by the very thin support and enthusiasm he generates in the new media. 

Helman missed the lede again.  I can’t keep doing all his work for him.

Be the ball, Scot.  Be the ball.

UPDATE: Patrick Hynes posts that he’s not running black blog ops for Senator McCain.

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