You’ve heard the expression “feed the beast?” Read what happens when the beast is fed.
From: Desperately Seeking Mitt by Wells Tower in the August, 2012 issue of GQ comes this account of how a campaign “gaffe” is first spotted by a press pack hungry for fresh news. On the other side of the excerpt I’ll have a brief comment.
… Back at the bus, the massive news is that an AP reporter has dug up a wire story about Mitt’s visit that day to the racetrack at Daytona. The story, buried deep on the sports wire, contains the now infamous quote: “I have some great friends who are NASCAR-team owners.”
A sports journalist evidently got the quote down at the track. The AP reporter, whose name is Kasie, well aware of the shitstorm the quote potentially poses for Romney, tracks down the sportswriter’s number and calls him as he’s eating dinner somewhere to be sure the quote is solid, unedited, and national-press-bus-consumption-grade stuff.
When he e-mails her the audio file, Kasie calls out to the bus, “Asked if he follows NASCAR, [Romney] said, ‘Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR-team owners.’ The quote is whole and altogether. No ellipses!”
“Wow,” says Barbaro of The New York Times. “Can we use it?”
“You can use it,” says Kasie.
Within seconds, everybody has gobbled it up: the Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, Good Morning America, some bloggers, NPR. Ari Shapiro is already recording a spot citing the quote for tomorrow morning’s broadcast, which he records under his jacket in the seat behind me: “…he may have done some damage by drawing attention to his wealth once again.”
Some television person is saying, “We definitely want to make sure that this gets into all the shows tomorrow.”
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” someone shouts.
Now what’s getting the reporters so excited is the amazingly good “fit” between what Romney just said about NASCAR owners and what they call “a narrative that’s out there…” which in this case is rich guy out of touch with ordinary Americans.
You’re not supposed to say stuff that confirms a damaging narrative like that, but here Romney just did! Bang: that’s a gaffe. And the reporters don’t have to trim or snip or wedge the quote into place to make it fit the pre-existing narrative. It’s perfect as is. Thus the excited cry: “No ellipses!” and the less articulate: “Oh, my God!”
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