The Right Politics

Once again, a hack-job on a political story made a politician on “the right” look stupid.   It is not the media’s purpose to give the public a stilted impression of politicians they don’t support.  Yet, MSNBC, once again, attempted to sway public perception of a political candidate in a negative direction.   Whether or not they meant to do it is not the issue.  The issue is that they clearly did it. 

On MSNBC’s “Way Too Early with Willie Geist” program, an edited film of Mitt Romney was broadcast which truncated part of his remarks.  Conveniently for the network’s political persuasion, the truncation made Romney look technologically ignorant. 

Romney made remarks about a visit to the Wawa Convenience Store during a Cornwall, Pennsylvania stop along his campaign trail.  In full context, Romney was comparing the private business sector and the public sector.  He was discussing bureaucracy via regulated paperwork which is required of the government.  

Romney said:  “I was at WaWa’s.  I went in to order a sandwich.  You press a little touchtone keypad.  You touch this…  touch this…  go pay the cashier.  There’s your sandwich.  It’s amazing.  People in the private sector have learned how to compete.  It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government.” 

The MSNBC retread of the story on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” MSNBC program later in the day conveniently cut the Romney story off with the phrase: “It’s amazing!” 

Naturally, without the rest of the quotation from Romney, he sounds like a techno-idiot who is amazed that you can actually touch a button on a screen to order a sandwich.  While that may have been a big revelation to someone who did it for the first time twenty – or more – years ago, it’s quite commonplace in 2012. 

The presentation of the story intentionally erased the content of Romney’s message.  If MSNBC doesn’t want Romney’s message to be broadcast, they should air something else.  But airing a shortened version of a story that horrendously alters the content to make him look imbecilic is totally dishonest and not acceptable. 

The subtle Romney insult was quickly noticed and reported upon by a fellow-conservative blogger who calls himself Sooper Mexican.  His accurate appraisal of the Romney insult went viral. 

Naturally, after the blow-up, MSNBC, via Mitchell, aired the entire content of the Romney appearance.  Too little and too late, one might say, for those who only saw the initial broadcast.  Mitchell’s attitudinal broadcast was hardly an apology either.  It was more in the sense of saying something like: since the right is complaining, we have to air this story honestly this time. 

Airing such altered versions of stories is no less than slanderous, and news agencies ought to be held accountable for their reporting more than they are in such situations.  It’s so easy for a news outlet to say, it was unintentional – it was a mistake – we didn’t mean it – after getting called out on such a dishonest occurrence. 

A healthy monetary fine and even some staff firings are what would finally stop these dishonest broadcasts by people in the news business who just can’t refrain from throwing their political prejudice into the stories they broadcast. 

Adding more concern to the situation was MSNBC’s delayed reaction to the truncated news story on Romney.  At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a spokesperson at MSNBC emailed the following: “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers.” 

Truth be told, nobody said they edited anything out of order or out of sequence.  What they knowingly did was drop the end of a story which blatantly told a different story than what had actually occurred.  If they misleadingly report a story and expect viewers not be believe that they’re trying to deceive them, they must think their viewers are awfully stupid.  Obviously, they’re not. 

About Scott Paulson

Scott Paulson writes political commentary for and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.



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