Playing the refs during elections is nothing new, and that's more or less what Mitt Romney might have been doing when he told Breitbart TV Tuesday there was a "quote, vast left wing conspiracy" shifting the winds of media coverage toward Barack Obama.
Excuse me while I howl with laughter for a minute.
There, that's better. Now Romney was being asked about Media Matters at the time. You know Media Matters, right? They clip actual words that actual people say on the air and broadcast out to viewers. They either let the clips stand as they are or sometimes post a little explanation about how wrong they are. And all the Breitbart TV interviewer was doing was offering up an invitation for Mitt to join the "revoke Media Matters' tax-exempt status" gang on the right. Media Matters is the left side's answer to the right's Media Research Center, and it does great work, but it isn't "media."
Mitt chose instead to criticize all media everywhere for their alleged bias toward the President, which really did a wonderful job of highlighting Howard Kurtz' uselessness for everyone to see. I see at least two important points to make here.
First, if the media was actually doing their job, they'd start calling Mitt and Ann Romney the liars they are. They lie about everything from important policy choices to minor things like the dog on the roof. They lie about what they said, they lie about what they believe, and they do it knowing full well a record is out there contradicting their position of the day.
They can be this cynical because the mainstream media lets them be. They don't actually use the word "lie." They use other, kinder forms to describe what Romney does. I am not talking about things that are at all vague. These are lies like "I never said that the economy got worse under Barack Obama" when he had just said it the day before. The shifting sands under his feet kind of lies that change depending on who his audience is. Those kinds of lies, which get reported as "Did Mitt Romney Misspeak?" or something equally full of milquetoast.
Yet no one in the media, critic or otherwise, will actually step up and call a lie a lie. In fact, US News & World Report claimed the "Etch a Sketch" story was proof positive of bias against Romney, despite the fact that it confirmed the cynical lies this campaign feels comfortable shooting into the mainstream.
Also this week, Mitt lied about his relationship with SB1070 author Kris Kobach, trying to distance himself from Kobach's radical, draconian immigration law and his cozy relationship with ALEC. Yet again, we hear nothing from Kurtz about this, even after Romney somewhat reluctantly admitted that yes, Kobach was an advisor to his campaign.
My second point is this: What happened when Hillary Clinton suggested there was a 'vast right wing conspiracy'? Kurtz himself belittled Clinton's candidacy for the 2008 nomination moaning that they'd "have to endure" all of it over again, including the "vast right wing conspiracy."
Wingers had a field day, courtesy of the mainstream press. Clinton was belittled, ridiculed, and bedeviled by those words, despite the fact that she was right.
Fast forward to 2012, and here's what we get from the so-called objective media: Crickets. Here's what we get from the right-biased media:
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Some media critic you are, Howie. There's a special place in hell for people who are too cowardly to call a lie a lie, and instead play the "everyone does it" game.