Politics: Hey Mitt, ignore the media and keep talking!

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday September 18th, 2012

Dan Calabrese

By DAN CALABRESE - The media can invent all the "campaign gaffe" narratives they want. Romney is right and he should not back down.

Mitt Romney does not have a problem because Mother Jones caught him on video characterizing Obama voters as dependent on government. That was the truth, and more people need to know it.

Romney need not have a problem at all, in fact, and the only way he will is if he starts worrying about - and trying to manage - the media narrative.

Understand: The political media during an election cycle are like the local announcers you hear when you watch your favorite baseball or basketball team. (Football games use network announcers and I have no idea what hockey broadcasts are like because I don't watch them.) Let's stick with baseball for the analogy. The announcers for my Detroit Tigers are Mario Impemba and Rod Allen. While not obnoxiously so, Mario and Rod are definitely homers and it's obvious during the course of any broadcast that they want the Tigers to win. Their commentary is basically honest but their pro-Tigers bias is never really hidden. As they analyze the game, it's their nature to find the most hopeful angle from the Tigers' perspective. Everyone knows this, and you factor it in when you listen to what they say.

If you want a more obnoxious example, you can watch Chicago White Sox games on WGN-TV, and listen to the horrendous Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who is such an invested partisan he's been known to rage violently at an umpire's call that didn't favor his team. To listen to Hawk, you'd think the White Sox were the saviors of mankind and all opponents were sent from the depths of Hell to destroy the souls of every man, woman and child. I suppose White Sox fans love him. Everyone else finds him insufferable. But at least he makes no pretense of objectivity.

Now, back to political reporters. The similarity is that their commentary and analysis reflects their rooting interest. They may be somewhat restrained about it like Impemba and Allen (Chuck Todd, Jeff Greenfield) or they may be obnoxious as hell like Hawk Harrelson (everyone on MSNBC), but they're all essentially doing the same thing.

So when Mitt Romney is recorded on video making statements that can be played up as controversial or "damaging," the opportunity for media spin becomes its own justification for the pro-Obama commentators and analysts. Their justification for the coverage goes essentially like this: "He said something he should have known would get us hyperventilating, so we have to cover his failure to prevent us from hyperventilating."

In their non-stop commentary, they're just spinning for the home team as they always do.

Now, what of the fact that the substance of Romney's statement is really not controversial among those who follow politics? Everyone knows the Democratic voter base is in one way or another dependent on government. Start with 45 million people on food stamps, add in everyone on Social Security disability, throw in recipients of state or local based programs, add in public sector employees and those who own or work for private-sector businesses who rely heavily on government contracts, as well as private-sector union members who rely on pro-union labor laws to maintain their wage and benefit structures - and I'd say you're pretty close to 47 percent right there. One estimate says that 62 percent of the entire GDP is consumed by the public sector. Is it really so surprising that the Democratic voter base could consist almost entirely those whose fortunes are determined in the public sector?

Today, most Democratic political strategists are breathing fire at how shocking and horrible Romney's statement is, but every one of them knows his statement was true - and you had better believe they develop their own strategies with this truth in mind.

So what should Romney do now that the media are pounding him for telling the truth? Keep telling it. And don't try to calm the savage media beast. They can have all the conniption fits they want over what Romney said, but the other 53 percent of the electorate needs to hear the truth about who supports Obama and why. And if the media, for the purpose of attacking Romney, intend to keep repeating this truth - so much the better. They are not Romney's friends and they never will be. If he becomes president, he will need to go over the media's heads and talk directly to the American people if he wants to govern effectively. Might as well start now.