Dean Barnett

The mainstream media’s fascination with Mitt Romney is rather odd. After all, Romney is still a second tier presidential contender who has but a fraction of the name recognition of more famous politicians like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. And yet the press’ ranking obsession as far as the presidential race is concerned has been to relentlessly peddle a narrative that Mitt Romney is an unprincipled flip-flopper.

Why has Romney received so much of the media’s peculiar brand of tender loving care? After all, while New York’s former mayor did deservingly become a national hero after his courageous response to the 9/11 attacks, the Rudy Giuliani Story has many juicy nuggets that are not widely known to the public outside the five boroughs. And yet the national media to date seems curiously uninterested in such matters.

On the other side of the aisle, Hilary Clinton has been unable to square her varying positions regarding the war in Iraq. Unlike Romney on the social issues, her “evolution” on the key issue of the day remains a work in progress. If the press wanted to check out the former first lady’s present-day gyrations, it could breathlessly describe a flip-flop as it emerges from its cocoon.

And then there’s Barack Obama. If ever a political candidate seemed worthy of getting the investigative juices of the media flowing, Obama would be the guy. He has emerged as a top tier presidential contender after a mere two years as a national figure. What’s more, his tenure in the Senate has been uneventful. He has authored no significant pieces of legislation nor has he delivered any speeches of note since his keynote address at 2004’s Democratic National Convention. You’d think the question of who Barack Obama is beyond the glittering image would be a matter of some interest. But it isn’t for the press.

To date, only Mitt Romney has received the scrutiny of the national media. Again, why?

TO START WITH THE OBVIOUS, MITT ROMNEY IS THE most conservative candidate in the field who has, at present, a chance of winning. The press doesn’t like conservatives, or at the very least, is more hostile to conservatives than it is to liberals. The press sees everything regarding a conservative in the worst possible light; liberals are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

A second reason is that Mitt Romney doesn’t look like a politician should, or at least the way the media thinks a Republican politician should. Given that Romney is constantly praised for his patrician demeanor, his impeccable manner and his smooth-as-silk politicking, I know this point is counter-intuitive, but bear with me.

Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett blogs almost daily at He has also been a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard's online edition, The Daily Standard. He can be reached for comment at

Be the first to read Dean Barnett's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.