Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 3, 2010

ANOTHER MANUFACTURED CONTROVERSY ENDS IN A WHIMPER.... And just like that, the air comes out of another balloon.

The White House statement this morning was accurate in claiming that Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff applied for a job in advance of hearing back from the White House about employment possibilities, a Romanoff spokesman just confirmed to me.

"The White House statement is accurate," Romanoff spokesman Roy Teischer told me by phone just now.

So, what do we have here? Romanoff applied for a job with the administration, and followed up with phone calls to administration officials about possible opportunities. He gave up about a year ago, and turned his attention to the Senate race. When the White House inquired with Romanoff about whether he was still interested about a possible position, he declined.

That's the White House's version of events; that's Romanoff's version of events. There. Is. No. Scandal. As far as political reporting goes, it has all the fascination of watching paint dry.

What's maddening isn't the Republican desire to manufacture a controversy where none exists -- that's expected -- but the excessive amounts of irresponsible journalism. A.L. noted this morning that there's "nothing more aggravating than watching the press latch on to fake scandal even when it's clear they know it's fake."

It's painfully common. Chris Cillizza reported earlier, "Neither incident -- on their face -- amounts to all that much as this sort of horse-trading is commonplace in the rough and tumble of electoral politics." Exactly. But if the meaningless incidents don't amount to much, why is Cillizza, among others, treating this as a major story? Why is today's lead report on Politico a piece that looks as if it were written by Darrel Issa's press secretary?

Hell, even Issa himself can only muster the enthusiasm to characterize the matter as "politics as usual." But if it's "politics as usual," why should anyone care?

I've seen other media reports running quotes from Republicans about primary intervention being sleazy, "Chicago-style" tactics. But remember, Romanoff applied for a job, and the White House asked if he was still interested. He said no, and the WH dropped it. If anyone seriously thinks this qualifies as sleazy, "Chicago-style" tactics, they need to read up on the ol' Daley machine.

Reporters know there's nothing here, but keep pushing this nonsense anyway. There's a lot of ways to describe this, but "journalism" isn't one of the words that comes to mind.

Steve Benen 1:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

"Romanoff applied for a job, and the White House asked if he was still interested. He said NOW(!), and the WH dropped it [emphasis mine]."

Posted by: sadly on June 3, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

All the WH reporters are in Washington. Nothing is happening in Washington right now. Maybe Obama should temporarily relocate to LA and let these reporters follow him around.

Posted by: tomj on June 3, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The "why" is simple: "scandal" (real or manufactured)=buzz=more readers=more ad revenue. Journalistic truth and integrity are (sadly) no match for that.

Posted by: nped on June 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

sadly: "....He said NOW(!), and the WH dropped it[emphasis mine]."? Is that accurate?

Posted by: st john on June 3, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is front page "News" on the NYT, with a title that's something like "White House officials confirm whatshisname was approached about a job...". The fact that he applied for one is buried deep.

Still a total news blackout at the NYT on Mark Kirk.

Posted by: philogratis on June 3, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Beltway journalists - lemmings the lot of 'em! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on June 3, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you link to items like this Politico piece? As I was clicking through I realized: that's all they want: my pageview (and thousands more). No trumped-up scandals, no pageviews.

There has to be a blogger-ethical way to reference Politico's silliness without rewarding them for their cynical muckraking.

Posted by: mattt on June 3, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I recall a hotly contested race, where one candidate said of another "his sister is a well-known thespian. . ."

Betcha today's MSM would be on THAT like a dog on a bone, a senator on a lobbyist, a congressman on a hooker. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

st. john: i took it to be a typo, wherein steve replaced 'no' with 'now.'

i found the opposite meaning a little amusing.

Posted by: sadly on June 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

That was quick....maybe Yahoo can remove their ridiculous poll question about this issue from their front page...www.my.yahoo.com.
Typical of their recent poll questions it is a right leaning; Rasmussen style question that is primarily focused on bashing Dems. For example they had a poll question this week about the Gore's marriage break up, but not one single poll question about Jim Greer (R) or Mark Kirk (R)

Shame on the poll sponsor AT&T and my beloved Yahoo. I don’t mind political polling but these polls a) are always based on some anti-Dem political half truth of the day from a breathless village reporter and b) these solely political polls are on the front and center on the main page even though they are unsolicited by the average non-political web user. The consistent misinformation produced in these polls do a disservice to those who know the least

Posted by: lib4 on June 3, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised if a special prosecutor or investigative reporter couldn't trace the Romanoff scandal through Saddam Hussein, if not to Hitler.

Posted by: qwerty on June 3, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly: No, the original was correct: The WH asked Romanoff if he were still interested in the position he applied for, and he responded that "No", he was not. "Now" does not make any sense, in this context.

Posted by: Kris on June 3, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"But if it's "politics as usual," why should anyone care?"

Ordinarily, that's a good point. However, Obama promised over and over and over that his administration would be different than "politics as usual."

Posted by: marybel on June 3, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Word: the MSM are prostitutes, who aren't even particularly good at what they do.

Posted by: rbe1 on June 3, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

[However, Obama promised over and over and over that his administration would be different than "politics as usual."]

That's a fair point. But considering what 'politics as usual' has been like over the past 30 years, and particularly over the past 10, I'd say that Obama is still meeting that goal.

Posted by: Shade Tail on June 3, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Politico didn't stop there. Have you read this?
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38089.html

Posted by: Dilip on June 3, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

When you have 24/7 "news" coverage, you get a lot of B.S. with very little real news...instead of in-depth analysis of real and important national and international events, we get sparkly, shiny things. I don't know how much of this is intentional or if it's just the general stupidity of the age. Considering that more people vote for "American Idol" than vote in elections, I tend to think it's the latter.

Posted by: winddancer on June 3, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you link to items like this Politico piece? As I was clicking through [...]
There has to be a blogger-ethical way to reference Politico's silliness without rewarding them for their cynical muckraking.
Posted by: mattt on June 3, 2010 at 2:31 PM

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink it. Why did you click on the link?

When links to Politico (or any other "garbage press", like the Weakly Substandard) appear in Steve's summaries as illustrations, I always assume that "Steve reads the garbage so I don't have to" and pass on checking up o his understanding of it.

Posted by: exlibra on June 3, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not even sure this kind of thing qualifies as "unsavory horse-trading".

I put it to you that this is not only expected "politics as usual". It is actually desirable.

WHY are Democratic primary candidates selected for jobs at the highest level of our nation's government?

The people who run for office tend to have good jobs already and they are trying to be promoted.

Often, the reason they attempt to be promoted is they feel they deserve more responsibility, just like at any other job. Just as often, they feel this way because it is true. They have demonstrated appreciable competence and they would serve the country better being placed in a position where that acumen can be applied more widely and produce greater benefits than staying where they are.

A promotion to a federal level by appointment rather than election accomplishes the same ends through different means.

To avoid the "Scandalous" behavior, we are told to avoid a large pool of talent and instead choose for federal service only those people who are not advertising their self-confidence through running for office.

Perhaps the GOP would prefer the the president select appointees with no distinguished record that leads them to seek public office or higher office than those they already hold. The previous administration demonstrated their preference for this method quite clearly.

The Republicans' (and their MSM puppets') call to stop poaching public candidates is, whether they know it or not, a plea for Obama to emulate the Republican management style where merit is not of primary importance in appointment selections.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on June 4, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK
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