MSNBC and “Wawa-gate”
As anyone who follows politics knows, MSNBC “leans forward” or, has all but publically announced it is the liberal news network.
Fine. I have no problem with that. In fact, I’m comfortable with it because it allows me to put into context anything they say or report.
However, a disturbing trend has emerged with the network. It’s one thing to have a particular bias to your reporting. It is another thing to report things dishonestly. And MSNBC has been caught red handed doing that at least twice here fairly recently. Ed Shultz edited a tape of Rick Perry in such a way as to make what he said sound like a racial slur. Then there was the edited George Zimmerman tape.
Now we have the “Wawa” tape. In it, Mitt Romney is made to appear “amazed” by some technology in the store with the obvious intent of recreating the George H. W. Bush grocery store scanner moment. The point, of course, was to make Romney look like Bush who, the left contended, was so out of touch that he hadn’t been in a grocery store in so long he was unaware they used scanners.
Of course, as with most things, context is key. In the case of Bush, he indeed hadn’t been in a grocery store and was indeed amazed by the scanner. The “out-of-touch” claim had some validity. And, politically, it also hurt him.
That last sentence is key. And the MSNBC logic seems elementary as well as obviously transparent. If that hurt Bush, let’s gin this up to hurt Romney.
But there were multiple problems with MSNBC’s attempt to smear the presumptive GOP presidential candidate. First and foremost, what they were trying to portray wasn’t true. Secondly, they seem to have forgotten that there are an army of watchdogs in the new media that inspect everything they say or do. Third, they seem unaware they aren’t the only organization with video of the event in question. And finally, they’re arrogant and believe they can pull off crap like this despite one through three.
So how did it go down? Well, in a short clip shown by MSNBC, Romney, who had visited a convenience store named Wawa, talked about ordering a sandwich:
“It’s amazing," Romney said, as the Pennsylvania crowd appeared to laugh. Then viewers saw Romney say, "You have a touchtone keypad, and you touch that, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich.”
It was presented as a Bush moment with both Andrea Mitchell and Chris Cillizza laughing at how out-of-touch Romney was. And, as expected:
Mitchell invoked an old perceived campaign stumble by George Bush, who supposedly marveled at a supermarket scanner at a grocers’ convention during his failed 1992 re-election bid.
But that wasn’t at all the context for Romney’s remark. Here’s what he said prior to that line:
What viewers didn’t see or hear was nearly three minutes of Romney discussing the nightmare of paperwork faced by an optometrist he’d talked to in trying to get the post office to change his address. He expressed mock amazement at Wawa’s efficiency to underscore how the private sector often runs circles around the clumsy bureaucracy.
"We went to Wawas and it was instructive to me, because I saw the difference between the private sector and the governmental sector. People who work in government are good people and I respect what they do, but you see, the challenge with government is that it doesn’t have competition,” Romney said in a portion edited out of the segment.
Wow … that sort of context seems pretty important to the story if you’re actually a reporter and not a hack.
And that’s sort of the point of all this. MSNBC continues to damage itself (self- inflicted wounds) to the point that no one is going to take them as a credible news source anymore (many of us already dismiss what they say unless vetted by a more reliable source). Instead, they’ll be considered a propaganda outlet. What they did with the Romney and Perry tapes certainly seem to be attempts at propaganda vs. news.
By the way, it’s not like other cable networks don’t have their own credibility issues (the left views Fox as the right views MSNBC). But MSNBC seems to be the worst of the lot, at least at this point. But, as someone recently said, as their viewership shrinks in the wake of these scandals, the only demographic that may be increasing for them is conservative and GOP viewers. MSNBC has become an entertainment channel for them.