[…] But there’s a laziness to all of this too, which is also a function of how easily influenced Fox News and the rest of them are. In the old days, a campaign would come up with a theme or a line-of-the-day, and then would have to work really hard to insert it into the (neutral) media. Oh, you could do it, but it took message discipline and some real effort.
But that’s not true with campaigns right now and the partisan press — and no question but that it’s far more developed on the Republican side, although it certainly exists on both sides. All Romney’s campaign has to do is pull out a sentence and call it a gaffe, and it instantly becomes one. It blows up on twitter, it goes straight to Fox News and most of the conservative radio shows…it’s all over the place. Indeed, if it’s in those places, it’s also going to be in Politico and Buzzfeed, too. So on the one hand, it must encourage laziness to know that all you have to do is come up with something vaguely appropriate to movement conservatives in order to get that effect; on the other hand, it must just feel as if you’re making something happen when you do it. And the more it hits the sort of things that the GOP-aligned media loves, the more you get the immediate effect. Really, for campaign operatives, it must be incredibly temping to do it.
I wrote about this hothouse phenomenon earlier, and this week’s events makes it even more apparent. The “I know I am but what are you” argument is weak sauce to start with, but thinking that a heavily edited 1998 video where Barack Obama discusses redistribution is some kind of a comeback to Romney’s devastating, recent 47% comments shows just how atrophied Romney’s campaign has become by relying on Fox News to amplify the nontroversy of the day. And the Friday tax dump of a letter from Romney’s accountants is something that Gretchen Carlson or Brian Kilmeade might want to wave around on Fox and Friends, but anybody whose skepticism isn’t powered by a check signed by Roger Ailes could see what a useless turd that document was. Yet these two things are how the Romney campaign “punched back” after one of the worst weeks for any campaign in recent memory. It’s just more evidence that campaigns grown and nurtured in the warm, fertile soil of the Fox Nation wilt and fall once they encounter the cold harsh world of a political press with more intellectual curiosity than Steve Doocy.