Media that reported on Edwards blogger flap ignored criticism of Romney's announcement venue
Research ››› ››› JOSH KALVEN
Numerous media outlets that previously highlighted the controversy surrounding the hiring of two bloggers by the presidential campaign of John Edwards failed to note the criticism by the National Jewish Democratic Council of Mitt Romney's choice of venue for his presidential announcement.
On February 13, Media Matters for America noted that The New York Times -- one of the first news outlets to report on the controversy surrounding the purportedly "vulgar" and "anti-Catholic" writings of two bloggers hired by the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) -- ignored a Jewish group's criticism of former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) decision to announce his 2008 presidential candidacy at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. In its February 14 article on Romney's announcement, however, the Times did report that "Ford's history of anti-Semitism was seized on by the National Jewish Democratic Council [NJDC], which criticized Mr. Romney for his choice" of venue. But numerous other outlets that previously highlighted the Edwards flap -- including The Washington Post, CNN's The Situation Room, and Fox News' Special Report -- failed to note the Romney controversy in their coverage of his presidential announcement.
In a February 12 article, the Associated Press reported the NJDC's criticism of Romney's decision to hold his presidential announcement at the Ford Museum on February 13:
The former Massachusetts governor, who is scheduled to formally launch his presidential candidacy from the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, on Tuesday, was taken to task by The National Jewish Democratic Council.
The council "is deeply troubled by Governor Romney's choice of locations to announce his presidential campaign," executive director Ira Forman said Monday in a statement.
"Romney has been traveling the country talking about inclusiveness and understanding of people from all walks of life," Forman said. "Yet he chooses to kick (off) his presidential campaign on the former estate of a well-known and outspoken anti-Semite and xenophobe."
In its February 14 article, the Times also noted the NJDC's criticism of Romney's choice of venue:
Mr. Romney's decision to come to this state -- a place where the Romney name remains famous because his father, George, served three terms as governor -- was one notable thing about his announcement. The other was holding it at the Henry Ford Museum; Ford's history of anti-Semitism was seized on by the National Jewish Democratic Council, which criticized Mr. Romney for his choice.
Mr. Romney's press secretary, Kevin Madden, dismissed that as "absurd criticism. The venue is a museum, a center of learning and technological innovation."
In its article on the announcement, meanwhile, the Post reported that Romney chose the Ford Museum "to underscore his faith in American ingenuity" but did not inform readers of the NJDC's objections. By contrast, the paper previously published several articles noting the criticism of the Edwards bloggers by Catholic League president Bill Donohue and others.
CNN's The Situation Room also omitted mention of the controversy in its February 13 reports (here and here) on the Romney announcement, despite covering the Edwards flap during the same broadcast. Indeed, on the February 13 edition of the show, CNN Internet reporter Abbi Tatton reported on the resignation of one of the Edwards bloggers, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, noting that Donohue had labeled Marcotte "and another blogger hired by the Edwards campaign 'trash-talking bigots.' " The February 7 and February 9 editions of The Situation Room also included reports on the Edwards controversy.
Likewise, on February 13, MSNBC's Tucker covered Romney's announcement without noting the NJDC's criticism. The previous week, Donohue had appeared alone on Tucker to attack the Edwards bloggers, whom he described as "two little brats."
Further, the February 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report featured a lengthy report on Romney's announcement, during which Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron stated that Romney "picked the Henry Ford museum of American industry as backdrop to underscore his commitment to new and innovative thinking." The report included no mention of the controversy surrounding his choice of venue. Yet, on the February 9 edition of Special Report, guest anchor Chris Wallace had highlighted the Edwards bloggers controversy during the show's "Political Grapevine" segment.