MILLER: Media’s love affair with Obama

Presidential debate gives Romney a rare chance to reach voters unfiltered

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It’s hard to compete with someone who gets Nobel Prizes and Grammy Awards just for showing up at the office. In running against someone as highly praised as Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has his work cut out for him. As his supporters point out, Wednesday night’s presidential debate offers the Republican candidate a chance to present his plan for prosperity directly to the country. He needs to take it.

On Sunday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie explained the importance of the debate to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “Let’s face it, George, there’s been a lot of filtering going on,” the Republican chief executive said to the former Democratic aide. “This is the first moment when the American people are going to be able to see these two guys side by side laying out their vision unfiltered. And I think that’s going to be a powerful moment for Mitt Romney.”

The Media Research Center (MRC) on Tuesday documented the purported impartiality of Mr. Stephanopoulos‘ debate analysis since he joined ABC in 1997. According to MRC, the anchor of “This Week” and “Good Morning America” declared the Democratic candidate the winner in eight of the nine general election presidential debates.

Over on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace mentioned two stories this week that struck him about media bias. He held up the Washington Post from Wednesday and pointed to the lead story, “Ohio, Florida Give Obama an Edge,” and the sidebar, “For Obama, the Buckeye State May be a Bull’s-eye.” The Fox News anchor noted that his wife had said to him, “I guess the race is over according to The Washington Post.”

He then showed the cover of Time magazine this week, which has Mr. Romney in a church stained-glass window, and noted that with just five weeks before the election, the magazine was focused on the candidate’s religion instead of his economic or foreign policies.

Mr. Wallace also asked his guest, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, whether he thinks “the mainstream media is carrying water for Barack Obama.” The Wisconsin Republican replied, “I think it kind of goes without saying that there’s definitely a media bias. … I’m a conservative person, I’m used to media bias. We expected media bias going into this.”

When asked if the media want Mr. Obama to win, Mr. Ryan said, “I think most people in the mainstream media are left of center and, therefore, they want a very left-of-center president versus a conservative president like Mitt Romney.”

Different sides of the aisle have varying ideas of what constitutes bias. A Pew Research Center poll last month reported 60 percent of Republicans view news coverage as too easy on Mr. Obama, while just 29 percent of Democrats think so. In a September Gallup poll, a record low of just 26 percent of Republicans expressed even a fair amount of trust in the mass media, which compares starkly to 58 percent of Democrats.

It’s the undecided voters and independents who will play the decisive role in determining whether America continues borrowing prosperity from future generations or returns to a more limited form of government. The Romney campaign’s “no whining” policy about the sort of bias that’s not going to change in the 33 days remaining before the election will likely help in the appeal to the undecided middle.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

 

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