Mitt Romney: Demise of Legacy Media Empowering Conservative ‘Insurgents,’ Preventing More ‘Collaborative Action’
By Tony Lee | October 20, 2015
Failed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney lamented that the demise of traditional media is empowering Republican “insurgents” and preventing establishment Republicans from compromising more with Democrats.
As the Republican establishment is trying convince [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] (R-WI) to run for House Speaker, Romney told David Axelrod on a recent “The Axe Files” podcast that the “extremes within our respective parties are having a louder and louder voice and demanding more attention” and “immediate action” as opposed to more “collaborative action.”
Romney said this phenomenon flows in part from the “change in the world of media.”
“There was a time when we all got the news with the same facts, if you will,” he said. “We had three networks we watched for the evening news. Most of us got newspapers. Everybody in the middle class got a newspaper, so we got the same facts whether we agreed or not with them.”
There’s more at the original, but what former Governor Romney is lamenting is that the internet has allowed ordinary citizens a freedom of speech which extends beyond the range of their own voices. Before the internet, to publish something or get your message across to a wider audience, it had to have been approved by a media gatekeeper, whether that gatekeeper was a newspaper, magazine or book editor, or a broadcast producer, a process which was heavily weighted toward the views of that gatekeeper.
Rush Limbaugh provided the first real crack in that gatekeeping wall, and even that was due solely to him being a tremendous radio talent.1 The vast majority of the rest of the media hated Mr Limbaugh and resented his success, because a message of which they did not approve was getting out, was being spread far and wide.
Mr Romney ought to appreciate that: were it not for Rush Limbaugh, and that first crack in the liberal media barrier walls, it’s entirely possible that the Republican revolution of the 1994 elections would never have occurred.
Mr Limbaugh and the other conservative radio talkers who followed in his wake2 were followed a few years later with the internet, opening wide the doors for conservatives to get out their message, and to subject the traditional media to the light of truth:
- In 2004, Dan Rather and CBS News used forged documents to try to swing the election away from President Bush to Senator John Kerry. It was the efforts of two conservative blogs, Little Green Footballs3 and Powerline, when their owners recognized that the documents were obviously forged,4 something CBS claimed not to have spotted, and they exposed the truth. Had CBS not been challenged, it is possible that that faked story could have changed the outcome of the 2004 election.5
- In 2008, then Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) claimed, during her presidential campaign, that her daughter Chelsea and she had to duck from sniper fire when disembarking from an aircraft on Kosovo. There was plenty of videotape showing that no, there was no dodging of bullets, the landing and disembarkation were safe and uneventful, and that Mrs Clinton was lying through her scummy teeth, but without the gatekeeperless internet, that information would never have been made public.
- Early in 2015, it was discovered that NBC Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams had “embellished” some nationally broadcast news stories. Without the internet, those discoveries would not have been made, and Mr Williams would still be lying on the air to millions of people instead of being forced out in disgrace.6
When Mr Romney said that “we got the same facts whether we agreed or not with them,” what he is ignoring is that the “facts” the professional media gave us were not always facts at all.
Of course, what the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is really most upset about is that the internet is allowing ordinary people, the grassroots, to connect and communicate with each other, to have some actual influence on politics beyond casting our votes every couple of years. Why, it’s almost as though there’s some democracy in our democratic representative republic!
The elites don’t like that, don’t like it one little bit.
1 – He tried branching out into television, but that didn’t work for him.
2 – The left tried to do the same thing, but with little success.
3 – Charles Johnson and Little Green Footballs fell off the wagon later.
4 – The documents were printed using a proportional spaced type font which was not widely available at the time the documents were dated.
5 – Undaunted nevertheless, CBS News was sitting on a story concerning seized weapons in Iraq which hadn’t been properly accounted, and some of which had been lost, planning on broadcasting it on 60 Minutes the Sunday before the election, which would have given the Bush campaign no time to respond. Fortunately, The New York Times, of all organizations, chose not to sit on it, and published it earlier, giving the Bush campaign time to respond, perhaps saving the election for President Bush.
6 – Rather than being fired outright, Mr Williams was eventually assigned to MSNBC, which pretty much qualifies as being forced out in disgrace.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.