Here's how embattled Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback diagnosed his political problems in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody: “I think they (the mainstream media) want what’s happening in this state to fail, that they’re shopping for a factual setting to back that up because it’s working.”
Um, no. While blaming the media is both one of the most common strategic moves and one that regularly reeks of desperation, in this case -- as in most of them -- what Brownback is saying is simply not true.
So why then is Brownback in so much trouble in a state where President Obama won just 38 percent of the vote in 2012 and is, inarguably, one of the five most conservative states in the country?
Maybe -- just maybe -- it has something to do with the massive (and massively unpopular) income tax cuts championed by Brownback and passed into law in 2012. Or a further reduction in the income tax in 2013. The combined effect of those two cuts was a more than $330 million budget shortfall in the state and the downgrading of the state's credit by several major rating agencies.
Or it could have been the considerable spending cuts that Brownback also pushed through that led per pupil spending by the state to drop from $4,400 in 2008-2009 to $3,838 in 2012-2013, according to the Kansas Legislative Research Department.
Or even the fact that Brownback referred to his governorship as a "real live experiment" in conservative governance. (He later backtracked on that one.)
Any -- or maybe all -- of these facts seem more responsible for the decision of more than 100 former and current Republican officials to endorse state Rep. Paul Davis' (D) campaign over the summer than the mainstream media's alleged plot to drive a storyline about conservatives ruining state governments. And any -- and maybe all -- of these facts seem more responsible for Brownback's current deficit in polling to Davis than some nefarious mainstream media plot.
Brownback is far from the first politician or political appointee to scapegoat the media for self-inflicted wounds. Just last week, Julia Pierson, former head of the Secret Service, delivered this classic line to explain why she resigned: "The media has made it clear that this is what they expected." Er ... did the media let a guy jump the White House fence, overpower a Secret Service agent and make it to the East Room with a knife? Not last time I checked.
Look, I get it. The media is right up there -- or, more accurately, down there -- with used car salesmen and lawyers when it comes to being trusted or even liked.
But Brownback's allegations about medias' responsibility for his current political problems are demonstrably false. Brownback has Brownback to blame for his political peril. No one else. Owning that responsibility is part of his path to victory. Blaming the media for it, well, isn't.