In the wake of the Republican National Convention it will be interesting to see if the press is as exacting in its coverage of the Democratic National Coverage as it was in Tampa and if media coverage of the Romney-Ryan ticket changes any. Here are ten aspects of coverage to keep an eye on:
1. Now that Mitt Romney has been shown to be an intensely decent and caring person, will the press cease any concern with “likability”? Will it begin to press President Obama for evidence of his personal warmth and charitable activities (not just writing a check)?
2. Will the media go back to reassess any of its “fact checking”? It is not like there is a shortage of additional material that justifies reassessment of the “He lied!” chorus. Matt Welch’s piece should be read in full, but a sample is sufficient to demonstrate the degree to which the media got their own facts wrong:
[C]ited as an untrue “fact” worthy of correction was Ryan’s assertion that “a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close. . . . It began with a perfect AAA credit rating for the United States. It ends with a downgraded America.” What on earth is unfactual about this? The implied blame-emphasis, said Sally Kohn at FoxNews.com: “Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.”
The fact-checkers counted as a “lie,” rather than hypocrisy compounded by non-disclosure, Ryan’s assertion that President Obama “did exactly nothing” about the recommendations given to him by a bipartisan debt commission. In fact, President Obama did exactly nothing of substance about the recommendations; it’s just that Ryan failed to disclose that he sat on the commission and rejected its findings.
3. Since “leaving out stuff” now counts as a “lie” for the press, will every speech in which Obama doesn’t mention 8.3 percent unemployment, a $16 trillion debt and less than 2 percent growth to be “a lie”?
4. Will the press cover the sequestration cuts? There is plenty of news to be had about potential shut- downs, how cities and regions will be affected and the plight of soon to be unemployed military personnel coming into the workforce.
5. Will reporters press Obama to explain why the recovery is so weak, and to correct the record on job growth? Romney and Ryan have hammered home the point that this is the worse economic “recovery” in modern times and caught Stephanie Cutter falsely claiming that Obama created more jobs than previous presidents.
6. Will the media make any effort to query disaffected donors, supporters and ordinary voters who really are disappointed, as Romney argued they have any right to be, in Obama? We know from the polls and the contribution reports they are out there, but it’s odd we don’t see or hear from them.
7. How will (or will the media ignore) the contrast in depth and quality between the GOP bench and the relative lack of big names at the DNC gathering? Many Democratic pols chose not to show up, but will the press try to find out why?
8. Will the media hammer Obama for a lack of access and accountability? Obama has spent weeks doing fluff interviews with non-news publications. Is this just the new normal in White House access?
9. Will the media stop treating Vice President Biden as a lovable old uncle and begin to assess whether he would be up to the job of president if need be? Will there be any serious assessment of his gaffe-prone vice presidency or does he get a pass on the truth of his remarks and his record in office?
10. Will we see any side-by-side comparisons of the 2008 acceptance speech (with its unfulfilled promises) and this year’s speech? There’s a big gap there, which would surely be the constant source of fascination in a Republican reelection campaign.
If you are thinking, “Are you kidding?” or “Yeah, right ” then you have figured out the obvious. A large part of bias has to do with consistency in coverage in covering the parties. That includes the tone as well as the persistence in covering the weaknesses of each side. We’ll see how the press does in Charlotte, but don’t hold your breath waiting for sort of scrutiny directed at the Republicans.