Möbius Strip Journalism: def. Reporting on an event the meaning of which is determined by how the event is reported. Or… When the narrators speak of “the narrative” as something that goes of itself. Or… When there’s no “outside” or “inside” to the story but just a continuous loop.
If Mr. Romney loses, you’ll begin to hear questions asked like why Mr. Romney has had trouble closing out victories, whether his organizational strengths are overrated and whether voters are souring on Mr. Romney as they get to know him better — not to mention all the chatter about late-entry candidates and brokered conventions.
None of these questions would necessarily lead you to the conclusion that Mr. Romney is likely to lose the nomination even if he loses Michigan. (If he also performs badly on Super Tuesday, you could make a more credible case for that.) The point is simply that there are narrative stakes, as well as delegates, on the line.
I love that concept of “narrative stakes.” That is really juicy. I love the way it suggests that “the narrative” is itself a kind of actor in the race. Like the candidates, Mister Narrative has “big,” high-stakes moments, turning points, momentum… destiny!
For more on that let’s go to The Fix at the Washington Post.
Victories in Michigan and Arizona would also come exactly one week before Super Tuesday, when 10 states hold either primaries or caucuses — by far the biggest delegate day of the race so far. With no debate scheduled before March 6… there’s little to stop the narrative that Romney has righted the ship and is, once again, the clear favorite. That means momentum.
The difference between reporting that there’s nothing to stop the narrative that Romney has righted the ship and reporting that Romney has indeed righted the ship…. is thin, elusive. Like a möbius strip.
(Image by David Benbennick. Creative Commons License.)
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