Media: This race is a disgrace
'This is ugly, this is about as ugly as I’ve seen it get,' one reporter said. | AP Photos
August 15, 2012 12:43 PM EDT
|Even the media’s had enough.|
The race for the White House has grown so toxic that it’s become a top topic among reporters and analysts covering the contest — and some are even calling on President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to call a truce.
“You thought last week was bad? Just when you thought last week’s third-grade insults were as low as the campaign could go here, here we go again, the campaign has gotten even uglier,” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said Wednesday. “It’s not faux outrage, it’s real outrage. Over the last 24 hours, the attacks from both sides have reached a new level of vitriol.”
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien said the campaigns struck a new note of negativity.
“Romney and Obama campaigns going on the offensive at the same time? What that means is nasty rhetoric, really nastier than ever,” she said this morning.
On Fox News, veteran political reporter Brit Hume said the attacks were some of the worst he’s seen since covering politics, a sentiment shared by other experienced correspondents.
“This is about as ugly as I’ve seen it get,” Hume said Tuesday night on Fox. “I think some of the things that have been said about Mitt Romney, and… that Harry Reid allegation are just unbelievable. I’ve rarely seen something like that from somebody as senior as the Senate majority leader.”
Reid said last week that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in a decade based on what an unnamed source had told him, prompting Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to call the Nevada Democrat “a dirty liar.”
Mark Halperin said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the contest was among the most toxic he’d ever seen.
“I don’t want to overstate it but last night was a big, historical moment, I think, in this campaign,” Halperin said.
He suggested that Obama call Romney and negotiate a truce, so the two candidates could then instruct their aides to knock off the brutal attacks and get back on the high road.
“Both campaigns are expressing not faux outrage, which is mostly what we see , but genuine outrage,” Halperin said. “Based on what happened last night, the president’s team is stunned that the president would be accused of engaging in a campaign of hate. Mitt Romney used the word ‘hate’. I think he meant it. I think the president’s team was very stung by it. Either today and the rest of this week we’re going to escalate into nuclear war, or I’d like to see some détente. This is not the campaign I think either of these candidates wants.”
“If somebody accused me of killing their wife, I think hate would be a word that I might feel quite comfortable using,” Scarborough said. “Think about it, just think about it. You’re in politics and your children have to see run over and over and over again a man saying that your dad killed his wife. And he doesn’t even care. I’ll just leave that to the audience to answer whether that rises to the level of hate or not.”
After Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), as his running mate, many in the media hoped the congressman’s fiscal policy-driven reputation would help elevate the campaign rhetoric back to the issues, like Medicare and the deficit. Even Priorities USA co-founder Bill Burton thought so.
“Putting Paul Ryan front and center on what this campaign’s all about is something that I think is good for the conversation because it makes the debate about vastly different world views,” Burton said earlier this week on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams said he’s surprised how early the campaign has turned negative.
“This is a little bit earlier in terms of viciousness,” Williams said. “What strikes me is how low it’s getting so early. Come on, this is really way off message for both campaigns. I wonder if either of them really want to go down this road. It’s pretty low to me.”
But not everybody thinks this is the ugliest campaign ever.
Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News and coauthor of “Bush’s Brain” said on CNN he it’s just par for the course in politics. He said that in 2000 during the GOP primary, Karl Rove directed Bush allies to suggest then-opponent Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), fathered an illegitimate black child.
“This has been going on for 212 years,” Slater said. “I think the media tries to do the job, but I do think that we get caught up in the kind of exciting, interesting and largely irrelevant name-calling that is the modern American political campaign.”
He noted that in 1800 Thomas Jefferson against John Adams, “Adams was accused of being a crook, Jefferson of being a coward and an aetheist.”
Tomer Ovadia contributed to this story.