Patterico's Pontifications


WaPo’s “Mitt the Bully” piece runs into problems

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:15 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The WaPo’s lengthy hit piece on Mitt Romney, leading with a 1965 incident in which Romney and high school pals gave John Lauber (a fellow student) a forced haircut, was definitely distraction du jour.  But a couple of problems have cropped up with the story.

First, the WaPo story originally reported that Stu White had “long been bothered” by the incident, but White told ABC News he was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.  The WaPo has now airbrushed this section of the story to read:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post.

As I write this, the WaPo has failed to append a note about the alteration of the story, in an apparent violation of the the WaPo’s corrections policy.  Moreover, the new WaPo version remains at odds with White telling ABC he had not heard of it until he was contacted by the WaPo.

Second, it appears that the Lauber family is not happy with the WaPo hit piece.  Christine Lauber — who appears to be quoted in the WaPo story — told ABC News she and her sisters will likely put out a statement later via a family attorney.

“If he were still alive today, he would be furious [about the story],” she said with tears in her eyes.

The NYT’s Ashley Parker has been tweeting bits of what that statement may contain.  Although the Lauber family did not refute the haircut story, they say the portrayal of John is “factually incorrect.”  The family adds: “We are aggrieved that John would be used to further a political agenda.”

It will be tough for the media to use the victimization of John Lauber as a cudgel against Mitt Romney if Lauber’s family thinks the media are the ones doing the victimization.


Mitt meets the media

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:30 am

[Posted by Karl]

Jim Geraghty notes publicly what everyone is thinking privately:

It’s entirely possible that it’s a coincidence that the Washington Post has a long story on a teenage Mitt Romney bullying and cutting the hair of a classmate who was believed to be gay, the day after Barack Obama announces his support for gay marriage.

But it is a fascinatingly convenient coincidence for the Obama campaign.

…and likely not coincidental at all, given that one named source previously volunteered for Obama.  Ed Morrissey notes, “It’s one reason not to vote for a teenager for President,” adding visual aids to remind everyone that voters are more likely to care about the economy of the past three years than a nasty school prank dating back to the Mad Men era.

Allahpundit, ever Eeyore-ish, has already been concerned about the transparent attempts of the establishment media on this front (although he switches to talking about the main branch of Team Obama in his post):

Remember, their big talking point against Romney, ludicrous as it is, is that he’s the most conservative nominee since Barry Goldwater. If they can bog him down in talking about hot-button social issues instead of unemployment, they can get him to play into that impression a bit. His rhetoric doesn’t have to be strident or out of the conservative mainstream for this tactic to work; all they’re trying to do is make him look like a guy who’s preoccupied with “values” issues while swing voters are worried about jobs. And of course Romney knows it. Hence his consternation here as he’s put through his paces first on gay marriage, then in-state tuition for illegals, and then ye olde medical marijuana question. Axelrod couldn’t have scripted that any better.

Although the media attempts its share of agenda setting, campaign coverage is ultimately driven by the candidates and Team Romney is going to do its best to stay on-message.    The problem for Team Obama and the media is that Romney wants to talk about the subjects most voters want to hear most about (folks whose votes are determined by support for or opposition to same sex marriage are, er, already determined).  Mitt may occasionally has to point out that the press is focused on trivia, but the lesson of the Gingrich campaign is that this will help draw in conservatives — and the public has a low opinion of the media generally.  It as though the left has forgotten how much mileage Bill Clinton and Barack Obama got out of rising above “distractions” to address the real concerns of real Americans.

Moreover, this morning’s distraction will be quickly cast aside in favor of tonight’s distraction.  As ABC News’ Jake Tapper notes: “ZOMGS TEH CLOONEY.”


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