Did the Media Program Us to Expect Romney to Fail?

So now the debate is over, and people are mulling it over. I haven’t been able to watch the whole debate yet, but I already think Romney is the winner in terms of poise and communication.

Face it. Romney had style. The question you have to ask yourself is “Why am I surprised?”

The answer is obvious: the media portrayals of Romney over the past few months have been completely inaccurate. They haven’t been reporting on the real man. They’ve been watching for, or even fabricating, every mistake they can find or invent and reporting on these things repeatedly.

I know it is not just my subjective opinion that Romney communicated clearly. Even the media felt compelled to come up with excuses for it. Thus, the LA Times admitted grudgingly,

No question, Mitt Romney’s extensive debate preparation is paying off. At least in the first half of the debate, he seemed more emotionally connected than President Obama with the material — making jokes and self-deprecating remarks and even invoking Big Bird in a discussion about the deficit and budget priorities.

So we’re supposed to believe his debate training made him suddenly better? I don’t find that credible at all.

Another factor, of course, is that Obama has been built up so much by the media that, when we get to see him in an unscripted lengthy appearance, he doesn’t come off half as well as we have been led to expect him to.

This election is about a lot more than style, of course. But it is still important to realize that the media is campaigning for Obama by making us think worse of Romney than the facts will bear out. They know that the more we lower our expectation of his style and his character, the more likely we won’t be motivated to vote for him even if we know we agree with him and don’t want Obama as president.

The most glaring example of the character assassination happened on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show, where they showed video that had subtitles showing the crowd cheering for Ryan. Romney then appeared to break in and demand that they cheer for both of them. It turned out it was exactly the opposite. The crowd had been cheering for Romney and Romney wanted his V-P included in the cheer.

This was a pretty insignificant piece of footage. But it is obvious that someone realizes the power of a making a candidate look personally like a loser.

This first debate shows you that the strategy sometimes backfires. But you need to use this opportunity to remind yourself that it is happening and try to resist it.