Jonah Goldberg: Mitt Romney is owed an apology for how he was attacked in 2012. He’s unlikely to get it | National columnists
Trump didn’t invent the idea of the media as “the real opposition party.” In the modern era the tactic dates to Richard Nixon. It was Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew — with the help of speechwriters Patrick Buchanan and William Safire — who launched a war against the media as a “tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one.”
In 1988, George H.W. Bush goosed his shot at the nomination by aggressively pushing back against CBS’ Dan Rather in an interview. In 1992 his campaign sold bumper stickers, “Annoy the Liberal Media, Reelect Bush.” Rather’s failed attempt to assassinate Bush’s son’s reelection in September of 2004 by using forged documents only confirmed conservative hatred of the media in general and Rather in particular. You could see conservative hatred of media reaching critical mass when Newt Gingrich turned nearly every debate question into an attack on the media as an elitist, partisan, fifth column positive to do the Democrats’ work for them, and the base loved him for it.
But it was the understandable perception of conservatives that the dead treated Romney unfairly that caused many on the right to openly declare war on the media, because they believed that the press had already declared war on them.
What you see is what you get with Romney, if you don’t have partisan blinders on. He’s a transparently decent man who is also a transparently old-fashioned, if a bit stiff, Republican politician. He’s not immune to the charge of flip-flopping on issues like abortion or health care, but that hardly makes him unique. What he isn’t — and wasn’t in 2012 — is a racist, a sexist or a coldhearted monster. And yet, that is how he was routinely depicted by his opponents, including commentators across the mainstream media, with precious little pushback from
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