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Romney's Media Strategy Frustrates Conservative Outlets but Could Take Him to the White House

A narrative growing around former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is that he avoids right-of-center news outlets. A few weeks ago, the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis stood by a piece the Romney camp disputed that took issue with the fact that only left-wing news outlets received any attention on one particular conference call. And in recent months both Brett Baier and Chris Wallace of Fox News have made an issue over the Governor’s apparent reluctance to show up for a grilling on their respective shows (though Romney did eventually make an appearance with both).

Today, the Daily Caller repeats a familiar refrain:

Romney last week granted one-on-one interviews in Iowa to both MSNBC and the Huffington Post, among the best-known sources of news for liberals in the country. In recent weeks, he also gave interviews to The Washington Post, The New York Times and Politico.

It’s a peculiar strategy for someone who has had trouble convincing conservatives throughout this race he’s one of them.

The Romney campaign runs a tight ship when it comes to media access. Unlike other candidates who can be more open at campaign stops, Romney will only answer questions from reporters during organized media availabilities. …

Romney’s campaign has refused multiple times over the last year to provide the former Massachusetts governor for an interview with The Daily Caller.

There is, I think, an important difference between a candidate and an elected official. If you’re president of the United States or the local dog catcher, you have an obligation to meet with the press, even the hostile press. You are, after all, representing all of the people once you take office. A candidate, though, is a different story. Their job is to win as many votes as possible and, yes, to manipulate the media to their own advantage. In fact, how well a Republican candidate does or doesn’t manage the media frequently means the difference between a loss or a win. Democrats, of course, almost always have the media wind at their backs.

With that in mind, it actually makes sense for Romney to avoid right-of-center news outlets — for now. As things stand in the primary, these are the outlets most likely to give him the most trouble, and no savvy candidate is going to take that kind of risk. Romney’s reluctance proved prescient after he participated in an unnecessarily defensive (in my opinion) interview with Baier at the end of November. It was one of the worst moments in what’s been an otherwise impressive campaign. Alternately, for reasons I won’t go into here, liberal media outlets such as Politico, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times give him less trouble and help to get his message out.

What we have to hope for, should Romney win the nomination, is that he is consciously willing to manipulate the media as a means to his own ends and that he will continue to do so during the general election. Personally, I think this is exactly what Romney’s doing, and as frustrating as this is for our friends over at the Daily Caller and elsewhere (and they have every right to call him out on it), it gives me some confidence that Romney has the media savvy necessary to beat Obama.

It’s impossible for me to believe Romney is as naive as Senator John McCain. McCain spent decades courting the liberal media but learned nothing about how truly awful his so-called friends really are. That he was caught off guard and completely flat-footed when they turned on him in favor of Their Precious One is one of the primary reasons McCain lost.

Romney has to know that if he’s chosen to be the GOP’s standard-bearer, Obama’s Palace Guards, who up to now have treated him well, have already written stories determined to turn the moderate Governor into a rabid, right-wing racist who wants to turn the poor into Soylent Green and the whole country into freaky, Bible-thumpin’ Mormons.

Romney has to know that, right?

Right?

If he doesn’t, he has no chance. Beating President FailureTeleprompter is easy. Beating the corrupt MSM is another story.

But I think Romney does understand this and is right now showing the proper mercenary impulse when it comes to using the media in a way that benefits his own campaign. Obviously, this strategy will have to change considerably should he win the nomination, and I not only think it will, I think that what so many on our side see as a vice today will look like quite the virtue post-Labor Day.

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