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Campaign 2012 MediaWatch (Updated): Mitt Romney, a Not-So-Merry Prankster | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Campaign 2012 MediaWatch (Updated): Mitt Romney, a Not-So-Merry Prankster

Greg Mitchell’s books on key American campaigns include The Campaign of the Century (Upton Sinclair, 1934), Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady (Nixon-Douglas, 1950) and Why Obama Won.

BUT DID HE TIE STUDENT TO ROOF OF CAR? Expect major GOP hits today on Wash Post probe of Mitt Romney’s prep school days when he was Prankster in Chief but not always in fun way—such as forcibly cutting the hair of kid with odd haircut and incidents that suggest homophobia. Of course, same critics never have problem with digging into Obama’s distant past, or even birth. Update: Romney has now admitted to “hijinks” in past but refused to comment on the worst examples and denies any were anti-gay.  Meanwhile, ABC reports that his campaign is trying to ge former classmates to say good things about him--and failing so far,  in fact some say more bad things, e.g. a "Lord of the Flies" guy.

Watch Lawrence O'Donnell hail Fox's Shep Smith for bravely (considering where he works) backing gay marriage... Watch Jon Stewart mock North Carolina vote banning gay unions (and, whoops, hetero benefits, too)... And watch below as Romney gets angry and scolds Colorado TV reporter who dares to ask him about gay marriage and medical marijuana, calling them issues of “insignificance.”

DICK LUGAR: BOOGIE KNIGHT? Jon Stewart last night lamented the loss of Dick Lugar, “our best porn-named Senator.” Your other nominations?

WERE MEDIA MASSAGED ON WHITE HOUSE AND GAY MARRIAGE? Doubt the media still call the tune in this year’s election race? What most took to be simply another Biden “gaffe” on Meet the Press in letting “slip” his backing for gay marriage now looks more like a trial balloon. President Obama summoned ABC’s Robin Roberts to the White House for an exclusive—unscheduled— interview early this afternoon knowing she would be asking about his “evolving” position on the issue, as pressure built. And sure enough: in the interview, he came out with same-sex marriage, at least, fully evolved (even while noting this was merely a “personal” view, he’ll still leave it to the states).

It should be noted that the official line, reported by Sam Stein, among others, is that Obama was surprised to learn of Biden’s statement in the taped interview last Friday, watched the “firestorm” develop, and then decided to move up his timetable for announcing his support from summer to May.

Meanwhile, often-wrong analyst Mark Halperin had already gone on record today predicting Obama would endorse marriage equality—and that this might seal his re-election. New polls show most American support gay marriage, but by narrow margins—and poll guru Nate Silver is quickly out with analysis at the NYT. The Times also reviews what Mitt Romney has said over the years, including running away from his very “pro” view when he ran against Ted Kennedy. And the paper’s Frank Bruni, who just yesterday predicted Obama would not make this move (and could understand why, due to politics), now hails the decision.

Here’s how Jon Stewart last night covered the apparent (but maybe not) confusion at the White House, especially embodied by “zen-like” comments by press secretary Jay Carney.


BARKLEY TAKES KEY SHOT? Who cares about ABC and NBC when Sir Charles Barkley interjects himself in campaign coverage—and gets called for a foul by John McCain? During TNT’s coverage of the Celtics-Hawks playoff game, analyst Barkley (who has shifted from former GOP views lately) spotted Romney on the screen and said, “We’re going to beat you like a drum in November.… Don’t take it personally. You seem like a nice guy…but you’re going down, bro.” McCain tweeted a response: “you’re clueless - @MittRomney wins. Wanna bet?” He then told CNN’s John King it was inappropriate for Barkley to turn pundit.

EDITORIALS DID NOT HALT NORTH CAROLINA BAN In case you wondered: that massive North Carolina vote yesterday in favor of a ban on gay marriage, civil unions and more was accomplished without the backing of the major newspapers in the state, who editorialized against it. Supporters of the ban ran many paid ads in newspapers, however, particularly in the Bible Belt.

Today in an editorial the Charlotte Observer called the vote outright “wrong,” adding, “On Tuesday, North Carolina foolishly and shamefully joined 30 states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriages. But state voters went further than that with this unwise and unnecessary constitutional change.… The state is on the wrong side of history on this matter. Most Americans are increasingly rejecting this type of prejudice against gays and lesbians. A new Gallup poll showed 50 percent of Americans believe same sex marriages should be recognized as legal, while 48 percent say such marriages should not be legal.

“To their credit, Mecklenburg and a few other counties voted this amendment down. That’s heartening. We’re disappointed the rest of the state decided otherwise. The result doesn’t show love. It’s wrong and disgraceful.”

MEDIA REACT TO LUGAR LOSS The other big voting news of the day (sorry, Wisconsin) was Indiana voters turning longtime GOP Senator Richard Lugar out of office, unless he runs as a third-party candidate, as they gave a rousing victory to his Tea Party radical opponent, Richard Mourdock. The Indianapolis Star does a nice job here collecting some of the other media commentary. The Washington Post attributed the win to outside money. CNN: Lugar was too much of a “globe-trotter’ while Mourcock is “über-accessible” and will show up at every chili cookoff in the state. Most agree the Democrats now have a shot at winning the seat, and Obama has a somewhat better chance taking the state.

Summarizing a Think Progress report: “Editor Ian Millhiser noted that if President Barack Obama gets the chance to nominate a new Supreme Court justice during a second term, it would be impossible to find a nominee that would satisfy the newly radicalized Republican party. He wrote, ‘The parties are too far apart. The Republicans are too eager to obstruct, and the handful of GOPers with a history of bipartisanship will be too spooked to reach across the aisle. America could go years with one or more Supreme Court seats vacant.’ ”

POLL FINDS PUBLIC STILL HOTLY FOLLOWING CAMPAIGN Pew is out with its weekly report on what media coverage captured the public attention most last week. The winner? The economy, stupid, thanks to reporting about fears of a slowdown in the recovery. But campaign 2012 still grabbed the second position. “About three-in-ten (29%) say they followed election news very closely last week, a level of interest that has held relatively steady for much of 2012.”

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