December 23, 2007

NH Paper Goes Negative

Let a candidate for president criticize another candidate for a particular position or for his voting record, and the media decries the running of "negative ads", or more generally, just "going negative." We are lectured constantly that the American people reject this sort of campaigning, and insist on limiting the discourse to each candidate's own vision and positive agenda for the country. No actual evidence is put forth to show that this is the way Americans feel , but that's what we hear nonetheless.

But media organizations, exempted from the restrictions on "electioneering communications" placed on the rest of us by McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, are free to do all the electioneering they like, even the kind of negative stuff they insist the people don't want to hear. To wit...

The Concord Monitor broke with political tradition Sunday, telling readers in the state with the first presidential primary why they should not vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney instead of whom they should support.

In a scathing anti-endorsement that called Romney a "disquieting figure," the New Hampshire newspaper's editorial board said he looks and acts like a presidential contender but "surely must be stopped" because he lacks the core philosophical beliefs to be a trustworthy president.

In particular, the newspaper noted the former Massachusetts governor's change of heart on such issues as abortion rights, stem-cell research and access to emergency contraception, as well as on signing an anti-tax pledge.

"When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it," the newspaper said. "Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no."

They must?

Well, these people are professional journalists, so they must be objective. That's why Congress exempted certain elements of the press from McCain-Feingold restrictions. They know better than regular folks do, and they will always exercise their political power responsibly. And really, now that the Concord Monitor has enlightened New Hampshire voters about this "phony", the voters know now what they must do.

But something tells me there won't be a place on the primary ballot for New Hampshire voters to vote "no" on Romney. I'm not sure if the Monitor has endorsed some other Republican in the primary, or if they feel that this anti-endorsement spares them the embarrassment of taking a position favoring any Republican.

Posted by dan at December 23, 2007 9:37 PM