If you read the newspaper, watch the telly or turn the radio dial to something besides talk or the greatest hits of the 70’s, 80’s and today, then you know that Romney’s international trip was a disaster. How do you know that? Well you know it the same way that Soviet citizens knew that their economy was booming and it would only be a matter of time before the oppressed slaves of capitalism threw off their shackles and bowed their arrogant heads to the hammer and sickle. They read it in the paper.
We read things in the paper too. Not very good or interesting things because the media is currently too lazy and cheap to do good or interesting things.
Modern journalism is indistinguishable from public relations. PR people do not investigate or report, they come up with a narrative, break it down into talking points and then sell it down by the docks. Their narrative is “Our company is great and the other company is bad.” When their company does something wrong, then it’s, “Our company really isn’t responsible for this” and “The other company is much worse than we are.”
When it comes to politics all you really hear from the media anymore is the same lazy spin you can find on corporate press releases. Read the press releases from a squabble between two companies, switch out the names of the companies to, “Obama” and “Romney” and imagine that Obama Inc. owns the media. Now you know everything you need to know about politics.
Journalism is out. The modern media is too lazy and cheap to actually work on investigative reporting and when they do take the time, it leads to some ridiculous personal eyewitness account of nothing in particular. Coming up with an actual scandal takes work, but why bother when you can just spin the actual news in the worst possible way and manufacture a gaffe narrative.
Manufacturing gaffes is a lot easier than manufacturing jobs which is why the media has switched from fake optimism about the economy to fake pessimism about Romney’s competence. While it takes a lot of work to open a factory that manufactures shoes or microprocessors, manufacturing a gaffe factory is very easy.
Step 1. Call something that a candidate has done a gaffe.
Step 2. Report on the gaffe claim that your media outlet just made. Do not call it a claim, treat it as a verified fact that everyone has already acknowledged.
Step 3. Turn the gaffe reporting into the major issue by talking about it all the time. Interview experts who are willing to back up your gaffe claim.
Step 4. Fire constant questions at the candidate to force him to acknowledge the gaffe. If he discusses the issue in any way, describe him as apologizing or walking back his previous statements. Print essays that accuse him of being an incompetent flip-flopping wimp. If he refuses to discuss it, accuse him of stonewalling and print essays that accuse him of living in denial because he refuses to admit what “everyone” already knows. Either way you’ve proven that he’s a bad person.
Step 5. Repeat step 1 several times. Then begin reporting on a “Pattern of Gaffes”, a “Pattern of Stonewalling” and a “Pattern of Flip-Flopping.”
We got a preview of the media’s gaffe manufacturing process during Romney’s international trip. There are currently more media stories on Romney’s gaffe then there are on the latest bad news for the economy. The narrative is being set through constant repetition.
“Romney’s foreign trip gaffes” the Washington Post blares, “Romney’s Gaffe Track Ends” ABC News laments, “Mitt Romney in Jerusalem: Another city, another gaffe (or two)?” the Christian Science Monitor speculates. Every outlet repeats the same talking points with a slight twist. The “story” is that Romney makes gaffes.
Once the basic narrative has been set, the media begins its secondary “reporting” in which it treats its manufactured story as a real story and begins embedding it into the real world. This takes the form of analysis pieces on the consequences of the fake story.
“Romney suffers gaffes, but will it hurt his campaign?” asks AFP. “Mideast gaffe could cost Mitt Romney” suggests the New York Daily News.”Romney aide’s gaffe exposes rift” offers Politico.
Any response from the candidate is treated as a denial. The reporting puts the gaffe narrative front and center to keep it alive for as long as possible. The rejection of the gaffe narrative is treated as a shameless and irresponsible lie. “Foreign gaffes won’t matter, Romney strategist says,” offers the Los Angeles Times. “Mitt Romney Blames Press for Foreign Tour Gaffes,” broadcasts ABC News.
Finally if the Romney campaign is not paying enough attention to the media’s manufactured gaffe narrative, there’s an answer for that. “Romney tries to move beyond Britain gaffes” says Reuters, still keeping the manufactured narrative in the context.
With all the gaffes flying around, you would think that there would be a lot of material to cover. But all the “gaffe” stories go to great lengths to avoid discussing the actual gaffes. Instead what they do is discuss the media coverage of their own narrative in other media outlets. They discuss what their own experts think about the story that they manufactured. They pull reactions off the street. And when they do mention the “gaffes”, they avoid quoting Romney as much as possible. Mostly what they do is summarize events in their own words leaning heavily on the reaction to it, rather than the actual event– always a trademark of a manufactured story.
If you have to read to paragraph six of a news story to find out what actually happened, then the odds are good that you are either reading a sloppily written news story or a news story that doesn’t want you to know what actually happened.
We now have 500 news stories that describe Romney’s trip as “gaffe-filled.” What makes a trip “gaffe-filled”? The definition of “gaffe-filled”, even by the media’s standards, are three gaffes.
In the UK, Romney commented on the stories in the media about the trouble with the Olympics. The media then screamed that he had committed a gaffe by saying that the stories that he was seeing in the media were “disconcerting”.
In behavioral terms, this is known as acting as a contrary conversationalist. In media terms it’s known as, “Everything that you say is wrong even though you’re saying exactly what I just said… but it’s wrong because you said it.”
So Romney’s first “gaffe”, in the trip that the media called “gaffe-filled”, was repeating what the media was saying. And while arguably repeating things that the media says may be legitimately considered a gaffe for the reasons this article lays out, I doubt that the media really wants to make the argument that repeating anything they say counts as a gaffe because the media are a bunch of worthless liars.
Then over in Jerusalem, Romney committed his second terrible gaffe by suggesting that maybe Israel was doing better than its neighbors because it had a different culture. Sure it was pretty similar to what Obama had said about the Muslim world’s economic problems, minus the praise for Israel, but it was declared a gaffe. Why? Because the Palestinian Authority objected to it and the media has outsourced its idea of what presidential candidates are allowed to say to a bunch of kleptomaniac terrorists living off foreign aid.
The only interesting thing about either gaffe is that even the most venomous gaffe articles really did not take issue with the accuracy of Romney’s statements. They couldn’t because there was nothing to take issue with. Romney’s London statement couldn’t be denied without also denying weeks of the media’s own coverage. Romney’s Jerusalem statement could be dismissed, but it couldn’t be denied either. Not when the Palestinian Authority was so notoriously corrupt and the GPD differences were just as bad on the Jordanian and Syrian side of the border.
All that the media could do was accuse Romney of being undiplomatic for offending Prime Minister Cameron and the Palestinian Authority. But if offending the British and a Middle Eastern government counts as a gaffe, then Obama had committed it on multiple occasions as an acting head of state.
When the Telegraph talked about Obama’s gaffe in calling the Falkland Islands, the Maldives, when he had meant to call it Malvinas, a political name used by Argentina to claim the rights to the islands, American media outlets did not pick up the story. When Obama called the Israeli Prime Minister a liar in front of an open mic, the media mostly shrugged. That too was not a gaffe. And both actions were far more undiplomatic than questioning London’s Olympic preparedness or the cultural values of terrorists.
Since two gaffes do not make a “gaffe-filled” trip, the media needed a third gaffe. After screaming at Romney during a Warsaw memorial service about the two gaffes they had manufactured for him, a Polish-American Romney aide told them to “Shove it.” Thus a third “gaffe” was born, even if it didn’t actually involve Romney saying anything. To the media the greatest gaffe is when people don’t want to talk to them.
The only thing remarkable about this sad pathetic narrative is how little content there is. The media’s gaffe stories are about the media, not about Romney. This isn’t “digging up dirt” any more, it’s “mean girls” namecalling dressed up as reporting aimed at readers who won’t bother to read up about the details of Romney’s trip, but will accept it as a failure because that is what the media is reporting. It’s the journalistic equivalent of the media calling Romney a slut enough times in the hope that the name will stick.
Meanwhile in a completely unimportant story buried on Page 24, we now know that Obama has signed an intelligence finding authorizing aid to the Syrian rebels. This was one of the steps to war in Libya. And the rebels now have surface-to-air missiles of unknown origin, though likely supplied by either Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia, all of whom are radical Islamist states and who buy their weapons from the United States. But there’s no reason to pay attention to our slow march to war in Syria. Not when Romney’s aide told a reporter to, “Shove it.”
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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