As Mitt Romney walked toward his motorcade Tuesday morning in Warsaw, Poland, Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker yelled a question in his direction: “What about your gaffes?”
Rucker didn’t specify which gaffes, but 4,500 miles away, his Post colleague Eugene Robinson wrote in that morning’s paper on a few that had become media fixations during Romney’s six-day overseas trip, which he dubbed “gaffepalooza.”
Whether at home or abroad, presidential candidates’ so-called gaffes — and the media’s preoccupation with each inartfully phrased or impolitic remark — have defined the 2012 election. Gaffes get tweeted, blogged, and reported. Cable pundits declare them game-changers. And rival campaigns amplify them through any means possible. When that’s done, the story becomes whether the campaign gaffed in cleaning up its gaffe.
Reporters complain that Romney’s too robotic and Obama’s too detached. But given that media’s extensive coverage of gaffes so far, including at The Huffington Post, the chances of unscripted moments or off-the-cuff question-and-answer sessions seem likely to grow more remote from now until November. Reporters, in short, may be facilitating the very reality they detest.
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