Having secured the nominations of their parties, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have set their campaign throttles to late-spring idle with a speech here, a speech there, a commencement address over there, and fundraisers and soft TV appearances everywhere. Eventually, the two candidates will stop coasting, but until they do, reporters will continue to lard their work with exercises in meta-journalism, such as today’s 1,800-word Politico piece, “Obama and Romney’s common foe.”
The common foe, don’t you know, is the press! According to Politico’s Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Barack and Mitt both “disdain” the “political news media” because they believe reporters are “eager to vaporize them for the sheer sport of it.”
Is there anything new about presidents and presidential candidates having bad feelings for the press? Does nobody recall John McCain’s low regard for the New York Times coverage of his 2008 campaign? Or of George W. Bush’s attitude toward the press? Bill Clinton’s scorn? George H.W. Bush’s hatred? Carter’s? Nixon’s? Johnson’s? Sometimes candidates do charm the press, as McCain did in 2000, and the anti-war candidates of 1968 and 1972, but it’s the exception, never the rule.
No, there is nothing new about presidents and presidential candidates having bad feelings about the press, something the Politico piece readily admits. As Haberman and Thrush write: “Media-hating has been an occupational hazard among presidential candidates for decades, and it’s deeply self-serving.”
Then, Haberman and Thrush abandon the idea of media-hating being a campaign constant in their next paragraph, writing: “But 2012 is shaping up to be an especially sour cycle for the campaigns and the media, amplifying the natural tension between candidates and the press in the absence of an uplifting storyline.”