The Washington Post

Romney calls for more media scrutiny. We should take him up on it.

Obama’s speech yesterday and Mitt Romney’s speech today can both be seen as the official kickoff of the general election campaign. Both of them shared something in common: They each made appeals to the news media on how they should cover the campaign.

In his speech today to newspaper publishers, Romney rolled out a new line — Obama is hiding his true agenda for his next term, and it’s up to the media to draw that out:

Nancy Pelosi famously said that we would have to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it. President Obama has turned that advice into a campaign strategy: He wants us to re-elect him so we can find out what he will actually do.
With all the challenges the nation faces, this is not the time for President Obama’s hide and seek campaign....
He does not want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press. By flexibility, he means that “what the American public doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” He is intent on hiding. You and I will have to do the seeking.

This is particularly interesting coming from Romney, whose own plans have been called out for their lack of specificity. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently concluded that even though Romney’s propsals would “require extraordinarily large cuts” in spending, Romney has for the most part “not outlined cuts in specific programs.”

Romney has embraced the Paul Ryan plan — the GOP’s main offering in the great fical argument that will drive the election — and Ryan’s proposals, too, were damned by the Post editorial board as dangerously and intentionally vague.

What’s more, as Steve Benen notes, Romney recently told the Weekly Standard that he intends to eliminate whole departments of government — but won’t say which ones.

But put that aside for a second, and let’s take Romney’s assertions at face value. Romney has invited the press corps to scrutinize how forthcoming Obama has been with his proposals. Similarly, in Obama’s discussion with the same group yesterday, he called on the media to stop seeing false equivalences between both sides.

So I propose we honor both of the candidates’ requests — particularly Romney’s. The GOP candidate’s speech today — and Obama’s speech laying out his proposals yesterday — provide an area where news oganizations can actually try to determine what is true or not, and who is right and who is wrong.

Romney says Obama has not been forthcoming with his proposals, and has asked the news media to expose this. So how about we make a real effort to objectively determine whether that’s true, and to make a call on which side’s proposals have been more detailed and more forthcoming? Obama’s plans, or the Romney/Ryan plans?

After all, Romney invited this himself with his comments today. How about it, then? Which candidate’s proposals are more detailed and more forthcoming about the choices and priorities they are asking voters to support?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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