Romney inevitability: Reuters isn’t buying

Third in a series of at least two blog posts.

Several media organizations have decided they’ve seen enough. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is now the “inevitable” claimant of his party’s nomination. In this series of at least two blog posts, the Erik Wemple Blogger will evaluate various acts of journalism in service of Romney Inevitability.

Story: “Analysis: Romney strong but hasn’t locked up nomination

Outlet: Reuters

Byline: Steve Holland

Thrust:

Mitt Romney has the lantern-jawed look of a president, he has a well-funded campaign and is increasingly backed by the Republican machine. So why hasn’t he locked up the 2012 nomination battle?

Another reminder of Romney’s shaky standing among the Republican party base came on Thursday in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that said businessman Herman Cain had surged past Romney, 27 percent to 23 percent for Romney.

Analysis: Holland’s piece offers a just-the-facts look at Romney’s trajectory. It talks about how his “train rolls along,” his “steady” poll results, his fundraising industry and his fine endorsements.

And then it segues into Romney’s inevi— Oh no! Actually, it doesn’t! The story doesn’t appear to feature the word as a noun, adjective, or adverb. “Ctrl-F” confirms the absence. Perhaps we should pull this entry from this Romney-inevitable series.

Too late for that. While other media outlets are invoking inevitability at least as an open question, Reuters shows some remarkable discipline here. It sticks only to the facts that are available right now and refuses to bite on inside-the-Beltway chatter.

What does Reuters have to say about its excellent, studious, meticulous approach to the facts? Absolutely nothing. When I called Holland about his restraint, he declined to comment, saying he just doesn’t talk about his work. His editor for the story, Jackie Frank, also declined to comment and passed me along to David Storey, editor of Reuters’s Americas desk. He said he couldn’t comment and suggested he’d have to refer me to PR. When I wondered aloud how much the PR person would know about the thinking behind the story and alleged hypocrisy in journalists failing to speak up for their own (very good) work, Storey asked to speak with my editor. (In another twist of hypocrisy, Washington Post policy is to refer questions about journalism to PR.)

Perhaps when your work is as on-the-record , factually strong and sober-minded as Holland’s, you don’t have to say a word.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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