On Aug. 5, Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post announced he was playing with a "somewhat controversial idea" that Mitt Romney should be the favorite to win the presidential election. Debatable, maybe. But controversial? Well, yes. It violates the pro-Obama mandate of our national press corps.
The usual political measures look terrible for Obama, he noted. "The unemployment rate has been over 8 percent for 42 straight months, a streak unparalleled in American history." Obama must win despite the crippled economy -- the most important issue for the voters.
The numbers are political red alerts. The Post's polling in July showed 44 percent approved of how Obama was dealing with the economy, while 54 percent disapproved, and 41 strongly disapproved of the job he is doing on the economy, while only 21 percent strongly approved. Six in 10 said the economy was getting worse, not better, in a Gallup poll.
And now the unthinkable: His campaign is being outmuscled financially. Obama's team has spent more than $400 million already on his re-election effort, The New York Times estimates, and Team Obama is deeply worried he will be outspent by Mitt Romney and GOP-favoring super PACs in the fall.
So where can Obama find optimism? Cillizza cited the "narrative." "From the debate over when Romney totally cut ties to Bain Capital, to the (ongoing) debate over whether he should release more of his tax returns, to the negative press surrounding Romney's trip to Britain, Israel and Poland last week, the narrative of the campaign over the past month has worked heavily in Obama's favor."
Curiously, Cillizza omits the fact that the dominant narrative writers of the campaign are the national media, our "news" purveyors, and they are working overtime on Obama's behalf. Reporters pin down the candidate, slap his face and steal his lunch money, and then they go on camera and say it's sad the candidate had another bad day with his narrative. When crowds in Berlin hailed Barack Obama in 2008, the media were thrilled. When Romney traveled to Europe and Israel in 2012, 86 percent of the network news stories were negative, dwelling on supposed gaffes, "diplomatic dust-ups" and foreign "missteps."
In nearly every interview, reporters are pressing Romney about his tax returns, rolling out the red carpet for anyone who will demand he release them immediately. Can you imagine reporters in 2008 asking Obama repeatedly for his college grades or about his cocaine use or Rev. Jeremiah Wright in interview after interview?