Consider this balance for MSNBC. After the Morning Joe panel openly scoffed at the Barack Obama campaign’s attack ad on Bain Capital yesterday, Hardball came to Obama’s rescue in the evening. Chris Matthews chatted with David Corn and Time’s Mark Halperin about how difficult it will be for Mitt Romney to defend his years at Bain … all the while with a strange little graphic in the lower left corner that shows Romney with the phrase, “You’re so Bain.” Mark Halperin then issued this moment of honesty about what we can expect from the media during the final weeks of the general election:
MATTHEWS: One concern about this, Mark, and you cover this every day. I wonder if the President can handle this debate. If he gets into a debate for an hour and a half this fall with Romney, who knows all the thickets and jungle work. He was in there, he knows where he was. He knows every dollar he lost, every deal he made. How does Obama get in there and debate him on his own turf? How can he possibly know as much as Romney does about how he made or didn’t make money?
HALPERIN: I don’t think he needs to, I think in a debate he can bumper-sticker it and make it clear. And again, the press — this is one of these instances where the press is very sympathetic to the Obama narrative on Bain, and not all that sympathetic to Governor Romney. He needs to make an argument so compelling that it finds an audience in the press, if he can do it, and an audience with the public. I think in a debate, again, we know what the President will say, and I think he’ll be pretty effective.
Er, okay. According to Halperin, the press will be just fine if Obama “bumper-sticker[s] it,” but Romney will have to present an overwhelmingly compelling argument in order to get the media to acknowledge it. As it happens, I agree with Halperin on this point, because Obama’s been “bumper-stickering it” for the last five years, and the media still hasn’t called him on it. But shouldn’t that be, y’know, a little embarrassing for Halperin to admit? Essentially, Halperin predicts that the media will fawn all over Obama at the debates regardless of whether he says anything intelligent or not, perhaps particularly if he doesn’t say anything intelligent … and that seems to be OK with Halperin. It’s certainly OK with Matthews, even when Halperin gets in an unexpectedly effective shot at Matthews’ hypocritical class-warfare-mongering:
MATTHEWS: Do you think the reason the press is on Obama’s side against Romney, besides sometimes partisanship obviously, is the fact that equity people make 20 or 30 times a year what newspaper people make?
HALPERIN: Not necessarily what TV people make, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s true.
No one seems interested in discussing whether the media should let Obama’s bumper-stickering slide, nor whether it’s appropriate to hold a Republican to a higher standard of argument than a Democratic incumbent. It’s just the way it is … which isn’t news at all.
Finally, the “You’re so Bain” graphic is so laughably lame that I just can’t resist making a comment about it. Apparently, Hardball thinks Carly Simon is cutting edge and incredibly culturally relevant in 2012. I like Carly Simon’s music, but that’s about a half-step removed from get off my damned lawn, you young whippersnappers! But for a broadcast that celebrates bumper-stickering rather than substance, well, I guess it’s par for the course.