MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before author Joe McGinnis briefly was in the news for moving next to Sarah Palin's house in Alaska and writing a tawdry book on her called "The Rogue," he became famous for infiltrating the 1968 Nixon campaign decades ago and authoring the seminal "The Selling of the President."
McGinnis's 1968 book was all about how Madison Avenue was used to re-manufacture "Tricky Dick" Nixon into the "new" Nixon. In short, it was the beginning of the television makeover that has marked US politics ever since. In charge of Nixon's TV operations was a man who cut his chops as executive producer (now the evil FOX Wizard of OZ) of the Mike Douglas Show: Roger Ailes.
So the Washington Post today touts a story which is so full of fluff, it makes cotton candy look like a nutritious meal. The e-mail teaser for the story is "Is Mitt Romney loosening up?" The story itself is headlined, "Mitt Romney receives newfound enthusiasm from Republicans." Now that could be an accurate assessment, if it weren't for the purely anecdotal and cliched structure of the story.
Take, for instance, the opening two paragraphs:
Mitt Romney is still awkward sometimes, a bit robotic and stilted at the lectern. But a turnabout seems to be happening: Voters say they are seeing him through a new prism.
"He's not stiff. He's letting his own human nature through, talking like you and I are talking now, not guarded and watching what he'd say," Marge Sowa, 69, said of the Republican presidential candidate after sizing him up at a pancake breakfast in Brunswick, Ohio, during his tour of potential battleground states. "He showed personality - oh, big time. He was one of the guys."
And then there's the perennial "regular guy" paragraph:
In a New Hampshire park, he scooped ice cream (mostly vanilla); along a Pennsylvania highway, he stopped by a Wawa convenience store for a meatball hoagie; in Ohio, he served pancakes at an apple orchard on Father's Day; and along the Mississippi River in Iowa, he went on a riverboat cruise and briefly took the steering wheel for a photo op.
Who knows what's next? A beer at an Irish Mormon bar, if he can find one. Wait, Mormons don't drink! Dear me, how does one fill in that hole in the "new Romney" touted by the flaccid Washington Post?
On page two of the Post article it makes this admission:
Romney's advisers say that little has changed about the candidate. And they are right. His speeches still are practiced odes to free-market economics. He's still darting between dusty factories and staged rallies, with the same "Born Free" rock anthem and oversize American flags.
So what is this article all about other than more "political process" rather than public policy articles? And it's a perennial fill in the blank story (just change the candidate's name and a few adjectives) to boot.
What it is really about is corporate media journalism that fails the needs of a nation in crisis.
After all, either Philip Rucker (who wrote the piece) is either a hapless reporter or he must have been cynically laughing his head off when he wrote this line in the story: "On Monday night, Romney boarded his chartered jet to head to the last state on his journey, his beloved native Michigan." "Beloved" Michigan? What kind of purple prose journalism is that?
And Rucker reads into Romney's mind, "The candidate wandered down the aisle to chat with reporters, confident enough now to make fun of one of his more awkward gaffes from the primaries."
Oh, my, this is what passes for the nation's top journalism?
Ah, well, what goes round comes round. According to the Post itself, in a May 2012 article:
The company's broadcast division did well, and its cable division held steady, but the once-lucrative Kaplan education unit lost money, the flagship Washington Post newspaper's weekday circulation plunged to less than half a million, and ad revenue continued to slide both in print and online publications.
Oh, the poor "beloved" Washington Post!