Thursday, February 23, 2012

Romney And King:    Perfect Together

In the video below from Wednesday night's GOP debate, John King asked "What is the biggest misconception about you in the public debate right now?" and after two of the other candidates responded, the following exchange ensued:

John King, CNN:    Governor Romney?

Mitt Romney:     We've got to restore America's promise in this country, where people know that with hard work and education that they're going to be secure and prosperous and that their kids will have a brighter future than they've had.    For that to happen we're going to have to have dramatic fundamental change in Washington, D.C.    We're going to have to create more jobs, have less debt, and shrink the size of government.    I'm the only person in this race...

King:   Is there a misconception about you?    The question is the misconception.

Romney:   You know, you get to ask the questions you want, I get to give the answers I want.

King:    Fair enough.

David Atkins believes it tells you all we need to know about Mitt Romney and about traditional media.    He blogs

Except to repeat whatever talking points his consultants give him, I don't think Mitt has ever in his life been forced to toe anyone's line but his own.    And it shows.

Also, John King's attitude is pretty reflective of the current state of our traditional media.    The wingers can say whatever they want, regardless of whether it has any bearing on the truth or the questions asked, and that's just fine by them.

A third possibility:    it says a whole lot about John King.    It wasn't as if he shouldn't have been prepared.   At the January debate in Charleston, South Carolina, King asked Gingrich about the big (huge) news of the day, that the second Mrs. Gingrich was accepting of the affair Newt was having with Callista.    It had been flogged all day, not by MSNBC, The New York Times, or even CNN, but by conservative blogger Matt Drudge.    Still, Gingrich sensed political gold in responding "I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.    And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.     I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

King was fairly passive in his own response.     At least in that instance, though, the audience was (not surprisingly) all in Gingrich's corner while he attacked what most Republicans imagine is a liberal media protecting Democrats.      Last night, King could have suggested that he had hoped Romney would answer the same question which Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich already had answered.    Or he might have told Romney that he thought he'd appreciate the opportunity to rebut a false accusation made about him.     Or slightly more combatively, King might have noted that the voters- Republican voters- get to know more about the candidates when they answer the questions which are posed to them, as Paul and Gingrich had just done.      At worse, King could have said nothing, rather than responding in the worst possible manner-    "fair enough," as if he agreed with the candidate.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Romney, recognizing how rudeness to the moderator in the debates has benefited Gingrich, was going to use any excuse to attack King.       The question, after all, was a slow curve- what candidate wouldn't want to be asked an open-ended question begging him to emphasize his own virtues?       Romney could have acknowledged that many people believe that his success in business (actually, extreme wealth through predatory capitalism, but it's a question easily spun) precluded him from caring about Americans who have lost their home or their job and face escalating gas prices because of Barack Obama's failed economic policies.        He would have simultaneously addressed a major concern about his candidacy, revealed a gentler ("compassionate conservatism," anybody?) side to his personality, and slammed President Obama, the latter to thunderous applause.

Nevertheless, Mitt Romney found it more gratifying to attack a weak journalist, and John King played the tool.

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