Joan Walsh says:
Gee willikers, former GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney denounced his latest rival, disgraced former House speaker Newt Gingrich, in his harshest language yet, calling him “zany” in an interview with the New York Times. Beltway folks think that shows Mitt’s fear and ferocity, I think it shows him, again, as an animatron politician devoid of passion who’s stuck in the 1950s. Zany? Gidget was zany. Gingrich is a dangerous huckster, who will apparently say anything to get elected.
Golly gee willikers, Joan Walsh! If you think Mitt Romney is “stuck in the 1950s” for saying the word “zany,” you must be “stuck on stupid.” It wasn’t actually his characterization. It was that of New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny. We can hardly wait for you to update and tell us how silly and out-of-date he is.
Unfortunately, one can’t simply blame Walsh, as the New York Times perpetuated the story – under Jeff Zeleny’s byline, when Zeleny is actually the one who called Newt Gingrich “zany.”
Mitt Romney, his presidential aspirations suddenly endangered by Newt Gingrich’s rapid resurgence, is employing aggressive new arguments in an effort to disqualify Mr. Gingrich as a credible choice to Republicans, calling him “zany” in an interview on Wednesday and questioning his commitment to free enterprise.
They put words in Mitt’s mouth, then turned it against him to gin up controversy, thereby bringing more attention to their so-called reporting. True, Romney did say we don’t need “zany” in the White House. However, he didn’t actually attack Gingrich as “zany.” At most, he simply went along with Zeleny’s characteriztion. One can confirm that via video. It was a set-up. Big Journalism has transcribed the pertinent portion – emphasis ours.
Jeff Zeleny: He has big ideas sometimes and it seems that, you know, he is sort of rapid fire with his, uh, uh, thought. Do you think that the American voters are getting enough of a sense of what he might do, or, is there some worry that, uh, you know, as President, should he win, that there might be some zany things coming from the Oval Office.
Mitt Romney: Well, zany is not what we need in a president. Zany is great in a campaign. It’s great on talk radio. It’s great in the print. It makes for fun reading. But in terms of a president, we need a leader.
Furthermore, if you continue to listen, Zeleny also twice tries to bait Romney into agreeing that Newt is “unstable.” However, Romney doesn’t take the bait, opting for “unreliable,” instead. Clearly, Zeleny was trying to manipulate the interview in a manner that would provide controversial quotes to fuel a rift between the two men. Unfortunately, since Walsh picked up Zeleny’s cue, the rest of the media–and even other Republicans–have carried the meme.