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Right Turn
Posted at 04:04 PM ET, 02/27/2012

Santorum: Boo-hooing about the press

A sign of just how stressed Rick Santorum has become is his increasingly reliance on “the media is out to get me” complaint. They are making him out to be fixated on religious issues, says the man who believes Satan has undermined our institutions. They won’t cover his one-note economic plan (revive manufacturing!).

Today, he whines that the media will single out any issue to exploit. He protests in Michigan “that’s been happening to me all my life. I’m ready for it,” but if he were ready for it I guess he wouldn’t be grousing. An if he hasn’t learned to deal with the national media by now, a presidential campaign is hardly the time to start.

As Politico noted, while Santorum has made social issues his calling card he’s now upset with the media focus on those issues:

And then they ask the question, ‘Why are you always talking about contraception?’ I said, ‘Because that’s all you want to ask me about,’” Santorum said. “I mean, it is frustrating, and maybe at times last night you can get a little frustrated. But they are trying to spin a narrative. They don’t want to talk about Obama’s record of jobs. They don’t want to talk about his record of what he’s doing to destroy the fiscal situation in this country.”

Newt Gingrich tried media-bashing, but that act wore thin after a while. Moreover, Gingrich lashed out at the media in an attempt to pander to the public’s sense of aggrievement over media and other liberal elites; Santorum is simply upset he is getting covered in a way that isn’t flattering.

Santorum shouldn’t be surprise that outrageous statements (eg. JFK’s speech made him “throw up”) get a lot of coverage. Moreover, he has really stopped saying anything new or interesting on the economic front. He gave a speech on Friday night that was supposed to cover the ten things he would do first in office but it was a rehash of old themes an a bleak look at America. (“His underlying theme was that he is a man of abiding principle and conviction with a 10-point ‘economic freedom agenda’ to revitalize American industry and limit the spending and reach of government,” wrote the New York Times. “But his description of the problems that he hopes to address seemed to cast a pall over the room.”) Of course that is not going to get as much coverage as proclaiming that college is a trap to indoctrinate your kids.

But Santorum has very little basis for legitimate complaint. Virtually the entire rightwing media routinely beats up on his opponent on everything from his policy to his wealth to his rhetoric. (The disciplined Romney team may have a media voodoo doll or dart board in private, but the candidate rarely wastes his time complaining about the media.) And the mainstream press is merely reporting on what Santorum is saying or has said in public settings. If his own words seem jarring and his topics seem off base, the fault is with the candidate not the scribes taking it down. If they didn’t cover his words, I guess he’d complain about that too.

Republicans need to keep in mind that media complaints may endear you to the hardcore base, but voters even in a GOP primary really don’t care if your press coverage is “fair.” They expect you to buck up, make your case and show you’re ready to take on the Democrats and their media spinners. (This is what has made New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a GOP rock star: He needles and skewers the press and never plays the victim.) Right now, Santorum seems to be reverting to his pre-surge days, when he complained repeatedly that he wasn’t getting enough attention in the debates. It was not attractive then and now that he is contending for the nomination, it is especially off-putting.

By  |  04:04 PM ET, 02/27/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Media

 
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