Time to expose a number of media myths about the 2012 GOP primaries.
Myth #1: The majority of Republicans are for “anyone but Romney.” According to this story line, even where Romney has done well, the majority of Republicans prefer someone else — therefore, Romney’s candidacy lacks credibility.
Problem is, in 2008 the same could have been said of Barack Obama. Indeed, more people voted for Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and other Democrats combined than voted for Obama alone.
A crowded primary field inevitably dilutes support for any one candidate. Nobody questioned Obama’s viability when he failed to garner more than 50 percent of primary votes. Nor should they question Romney’s.
Of course, you would think that Romney’s decisive 46 percent victory in a four-man race in Florida would put Myth #1 to bed. Unfortunately, many in the media are invested in the notion that Republicans lack enthusiasm for Romney and will continue to minimize his support as long as possible.
Myth #2: Romney’s support is based solely on electability. Here the media attempt to undermine the substantive case for Romney’s candidacy. On this point the media has it backward. It is true that Romney is electable. But he is electable precisely because his experience, character and vision for America make him the best candidate for the job. Not the other way around.
Myth #3: Romney represents and draws support from the moderate establishment, while Newt Gingrich represents and draws support from movement conservatives.
It is certainly true that several conservative icons (Rush Limbaugh; Sarah Palin) have expressed support for Gingrich. But it is Romney who has garnered support from the broadest array of movement conservatives, including the Tea Party’s favorite governors Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Chris Christie of New Jersey, conservative leader Bay Buchanan and right-wing media maven Ann Coulter.
Moreover, it is Gingrich, with 20 years in Congress and 10 years as a K Street lobbyist, who reeks of insider politics. Yet journalists will look you in the eye and describe Romney (who spent just four years as a governor) as an insider and Gingrich (who has spent the last three decades in Washington) as anti-establishment. Go figure.
Myth #4: 2012 is the nastiest election year ever.
Actually, it’s not even close. In recent history, there was the infamous 1964 “Daisy Girl” ad that portrayed Barry Goldwater as a warmonger and the 1988 “Willie Horton” ad that depicted Mike Dukakis as soft on crime. (Incidentally, it was Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic primary – not George H.W. Bush in the general election — who originally came up with up this bit of ammunition against the Duke).
But the early years of the republic offer even more stunning examples of attack campaigns. In 1800 John Adams’ supporters started rumors that Thomas Jefferson fathered slave children; in 1828 Andrew Jackson’s opponents claimed his mother had been a prostitute; and in 1884 Grover Cleveland’s opponents claimed he had abandoned an illegitimate child. Is that negative enough for you?
Today’s media describe Republicans as unusually nasty. But say what they will about super-PACs and robo-calls, the notion that 2012 marks a dramatic departure from civilized political discourse is simply bunk.
Mark Twain noted, “If you do not read the paper, you are uninformed. If you do read the paper, you are misinformed.” Thankfully, today we live in a world where the proliferation of alternative news sources and access to the Internet make it easier to expose bias and debunk media myths such as these.