Republican politicians running for office and dinging the so-called liberal media for being unfair isn't considered news. In fact it's expected. But Romney's comments were noteworthy because of the larger conspiratorial dots he tried to connect. The Republican didn't simply portray the press as prejudiced, he suggested Beltway reporters and pundits are working in collusion to help the Obama administration during the campaign [emphasis added]:
And I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They'll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.
That's significant because it indicates how deeply into the right-media bubble the Romney campaign has gone and how it operates alongside discredited far-right bloggers who insist reporters are really hired hit men obediently serving the Obama White House. Note that Romney clearly insinuates members of the press actively try to “divert” voters' attention from Obama's failures, and that's why they covered his stumbles in Europe.
It's as if confused Breitbart bloggers are now running the Romney campaign:
After his overseas trip, Romney is well aware of what the corrupt media is up to -- obsessing over real, perceived, and manufactured issues that allow Obama's Media Palace Guards to keep the focus on Romney and off of Obama's failed record and collapsing economy.
By the way, Romney's insinuation that it was the liberal media that played up his overseas gaffes in order distract news consumers from the real issues of the day doesn't hold up. Here's Rupert Murdoch's New York Post covering Romney's troubles abroad, and here's Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer lambasting Romney's London stumble as “incomprehensible” and “beyond human understanding.”
And if, as Romney suggests, the media are trying to help out the president, then journalists are doing an awful job of it. According to media analysis released by Pew Research, for much of the last year Obama was on the receiving end of consistently more negative press coverage than was Romney. (Indeed, a solid argument can be made the “liberal media” aren't doing enough to hold Romney accountable.)
So yes, the candidate's conspiratorial claim about the press quickly falls apart. But again, what's telling about Romney's assertion is the suggestion of coordination between the press and Obama.
The fact is there are various levels of right-wing paranoia when it comes to the liberal media charge. Traditionally, conservatives have picked fights with the press and accused journalists of being hostile to Republicans, as well as alleging that the personal political views of reporters tainted how they covered the news. (i.e. Biased!) That set of claims has been lodged against the press for four decades.
In recent years though, more frenzied allegations have been made, and near the top of the paranoia pyramid rests the all-consuming conspiracy theory that Beltway journalists now go to work ever day with one goal in mind: Re-electing Obama. The sweeping accusation races past the more pedestrian claim of bias and charges head-on into a mass conspiracy where the White House and the press are "working together."
Back to Breitbart bloggers, who might as well be writing Romney campaign talking points:
Even as the economy collapses ands [sic] real suffering increases, all the media can do is hysterically amplify every real and perceived mistake Romney makes, and when not doing that, focus intently on the very areas Obama wants the focus on: Romney's wealth and the fact that he's not releasing more of his taxes than John McCain did.
And July 28:
This is all about the media OPENLY coordinating with the Obama campaign to win reelection for a failed president. And the only way to do that is to turn the failed president's opponent into an alternative that isn't acceptable.
And July 30:
Obama's in trouble, Romney's trip to Israel was wildly successful, and this means the media must find something -- anything! -- with which to tear Romney down.
And July 31:
Even though consumer spending dipped again today and we just learned that 60,000 crimes have been committed by illegals Obama refused to deport, if Their Precious One is going to get reelected, the corrupt media knows it must ignore all of that and do everything in its power to keep the blistering spotlight on Mitt Romney. This is why, this morning in Poland, our Ugly American media disrespected Poland's war dead in order to fabricate a Romney “gaffe.”
On and on the conspiracy rages: Taking their cues from the White House, journalists are systematically trying to sabotage the Romney campaign. “They're working on behalf of Barack Obama,” as Rush Limbaugh lamented this week.
The claim is both clownish and confused (what's the media's incentive?), yet it perfectly captures the cloistered confines of the far-right media world where the independent press is portrayed as a White House weapon.
What's curious though, is to hear a presidential candidate endorse such wide-eyed nonsense.