Both sides were stunned by how easily Mitt Romney walked over a rambling, almost sedated Barack Obama. While liberals might have been more surprised by their candidate’s moribund performance, no honest conservative will tell you they expected what they witnessed or the overwhelming poll shift following it.
What’s embarrassing, however, is how the media so willingly set the table for both the president’s failure and Romney’s dominance.
President Obama has largely gone unvetted and unchallenged by the mainstream media since he’s announced his candidacy for the office four years ago. The president has been given a pass by the press. He delivers a nice speech with teleprompters but rarely conducts press conferences. Obama makes celebrity appearances of every sort where he’s guaranteed kid glove treatment and softball questions.
When running against John McCain in 2008, Obama could tout “hope and change,” which everyone was free to interpret. Now he’s got a poor three-plus years to defend, but the press still has largely avoided questioning him, so he’s really got no practice in a hostile environment.
Meanwhile, the media have gone out of their way to portray Romney as a modern Simon Legree, Gordon Gekko character. Essentially, the mainstream media have followed the Obama campaign talking points and commercials to portray Romney as an out-of-touch, born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth simpleton.
So what happened when the lights came on for the debate? Obama appeared disinterested in being there and disgusted in having to answer challenges. For debate prep, the press did him no favors.
Romney, in the meantime, appeared unfiltered before many viewers for the first time. Without the media editing him to sound bites and short clips, viewers discovered an intelligent, confident and accessible candidate who looked more presidential than the president.
The polls might have been different going into the debate had the media been more fair in their coverage and diligent in their watchdog role over the last four years. But the overwhelming momentum swing from the debate likely wouldn’t have occurred.
After all, the young journalism students who entered college with wide eyes and the desire to expose the next Watergate should know, it’s usually the cover-up that gets you.
– Jeff Latcham