Second in a series of articles on Politico’s story “To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting.”
In their story today on an imbalance in the media’s vetting of presidential candidates, Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen show little regard for a much-read Washington Post story on Mitt Romney’s high school days. Here’s the way they downplay the piece:
And The Post story, by Jason Horowitz (“Romney’s pranks could go too far”), alleges more than harmless hijinks: It reported that Romney was part of a group that held down a kid they believed to be gay and chopped off some hair, an incident several involved said they feel ashamed about until this day.
But the 5,500-word account was invested with far more significance than it merited, and is more voyeuristic than relevant to assessing Romney’s readiness for office.
The Post’s top political blogger, Chris Cillizza, wrote Tuesday of his paper’s hit: “Romney appears to have weathered — at least for now — a Washington Post story detailing some bullying behavior in high school.” The implication: that there’s an authentic debate about how a candidate behaved 50 years earlier.
So: Not a newsworthy item here. Just an irrelevant, overplayed story.
An irrelevant, overplayed story, that is, on which Politico:
*Wrote this blog post breaking down the bullying story and adding some analysis.
*Wrote this blog post taking apart the way that the Washington Post chose to drop the bullying story.
*Posted this video of Mitt Romney talking about incidents in the bullying story:
*Wrote this story analyzing polling data on the impact of the bullying story on people’s opinions of Romney.
*Published this opinion piece on the contrasts between Romney and Obama vis-a-vis gays and bullying, pegged to the bullying story.
*Published this opinion piece on gays, teens and bullying, pegged to the bullying story.
*Wrote this story on Rush Limbaugh’s reaction to the bullying story.
Wrote this meaty analysis piece titled “Will young Mitt hurt candidate Mitt?” pegged to the bullying story.
*Wrote this piece addressing Romney’s approach to apologies in the aftermath of the bullying story.
So right there are the hazards of serving as a media critic at Politico: Anytime you want to write that the media has overplayed something, take a plunge into your archives. Your colleages have probably done the same thing.
VandeHei declined to comment.