h/t Video Cafe for the video)
Frank Bruni of the NY Times wrote a piece called 'Mitt’s Muffled Soul,' which discussed Romney's campaign and the lengths he has gone to to avoid discussing his Mormon religion.
When Romney first ran for president in 2008, there was so much discussion about the potential impact of his Mormonism, and his own concern about it was deep enough, that he delivered a set-piece speech designed to rebut any lingering impression of the religion as an exotic, even loopy sect. In that painstakingly calibrated address, he said the word Mormon all of once. Christ or Christianity came up repeatedly.
Four years later, he still avoids the word, trumpeting his faithfulness without specifying the faith. What’s surprising is that no one around him — not reporters, not rivals — talks about it all that much, either. The Romney-Gingrich showdowns in South Carolina and Florida got plenty nasty: at one point the Gingrich camp, flashing back to Romney’s term as Massachusetts governor, falsely accused him of pretty much wresting kosher food from the mouths of Holocaust survivors. But neither Gingrich nor his allies played the Mormon card, even though nearly 20 percent of the Republicans and independents surveyed by Gallup last year said they wouldn’t support a Mormon presidential candidate.
It's a very neutral piece and asks some good questions. The GOP has put religion smack in the middle of their presidential primary as soon as it began and in recent weeks it has been ramped up. Reporters are obviously more afraid than usual of being labeled anti-religion since the new dog whistle coming out of the GOP camp is called "religious freedom" so I doubt they will go near this topic unless events really force them to. I was surprised to see this opening for CNN's Reliable Sources. Check out Howard Kurtz' first question to Bruni in the segment called Pressing Romney on Religion:
KURTZ: "New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni says that's precisely why the Mormon question is fair game. "There are valid reasons," he writes, "for the rest of us to hone in on Romney's religion, not in terms of its historical eccentricities but in terms of its cultural, psychological, and emotional imprint on him. His aloofness, guardedness, and sporadic defensiveness: are these entwined with the experience of belonging to a minority tribe that has often been maligned and has operated in secret?"
But should the media be setting those boundaries? Joining us now in New York is Frank Bruni of "The Times"; and here in Washington, Jennifer Rubin, who writes "The Right Turn" blog for "The Washington Post"; and Scott Conroy, national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics" and CBS News. Frank Bruni, start with you.
So why is Romney's faith or why should it be any of the media's business?
Right from the start of the interview Howard attaches negative connotations to the idea that Americans would want to know anything about the Mormon faith and reporters have no business bringing it up. Bruni handles it quite deftly:
FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think when you're running for president, the public, the media -- we have a right to know as much as we can about you. I mean, we want to take your full measure as a human being. And if a big part of your biography, if a big part of who you are is your religious faith, then I think that needs to be discussed. I think it's wise for the candidate himself to discuss it. And I think it's entirely fair game for us to ask questions about it. We -- you're running for president of the United States, highest office there is. We need to know who you are, where you're coming from, what animates you, what's important to you
Exactly so why is Kurtz so bothered by his column? It's the truth. Before I published my post on Romney's great--grand father's polygamist past and exodus to Mexico in the 1880's on 01/04/12, the media refused to even gaze into Romney's family history or religion this election cycle and he's running for the highest office in our country. Now at least a few media outfits have started to tackle the topic. I find the story of Mormonism, which was founded in America, Joseph Smith and the Romney's ties to it a fascinating story and my writing has been about that information on C&L Just recently a huge article hit the LA Times because the LDS Church apologized to the Jewish community for their continued practice of Baptisms of The Dead on Holocaust survivors after they had promised not to do that anymore.
The Daily Beast has republished a Newsweek interview from 2007 where Mitt Romney says he used to be part of that practice, but doesn't anymore.
Romney's biography is fully Mormon. When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead—in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to "open the door" to the highest heaven—he looked slightly startled and answered, "I have in my life, but I haven't recently." The awareness of how odd this will sound to many Americans is what makes Romney hesitant to elaborate on the Mormon question.
So why does the topic bother Howard so much in this online video? It's news plain and simple. The religious right in the GOP is going all in against Obama on contraception now even though the country solidly disagrees with that position and Santorum is attacking Obama's religion head on with outlandish statements so why isn't that offensive to the media?
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