The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Probably Just a Coincidence

Posted on | May 10, 2012 | 33 Comments

After public schools have spent the past two years engaged in elaborate (and federally funded) “anti-bullying” programs — with especial emphasis on protecting kids from the evils of homophobia — the Washington Post publishes a 5,000-word article portraying Mitt Romney as having been a high school bully who picked on gay kids.

By the way: The typical news story is 450-750 words. Five thousand words is enough copy to fill two entire pages of a newspaper.

We’ve never seen Barack Obama’s college transcripts, or senior thesis, and the only former girlfriend of his we know about is a composite perhaps based on a dead ex-girlfriend of his ghost writer, radical terrorist Bill Ayers. But the Washington Post can send a reporter out to do deep investigative journalism on Mitt Romney’s high-school days.

This is probably just a coincidence.

UPDATE: Question the timing, you say?

Funny how this appears one day after Obama’s forced-by-my-daughters’-emotions evolutionary announcement of support for same-sex “marriage.”

A Shermanesque statement from Professor Jacobson:

I once participated in a group which gave someone a wedgie when I was at summer camp in the 1960s. That’s why I’ll never run for President, my record is stained.

Dang it — another possible GOP contender fails the media vetting. At this rate, I’ll never get that ambassadorship to Vanuatu.

UPDATE II: These paranoid conspiracy theorists are everywhere!

Some critics saw the timing as evidence of media bias, suggesting that the motive had to do with making Romney look intolerant just as Obama had voiced his support for same-sex marriage.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, interviewing Romney on his radio show a few hours after the story landed online, said that since “everyone’s talking about same-sex marriage and tolerance and unions and what do you stand for, it’s amazing the timing of this Washington Post story … would seem to me it was somewhere shrink-wrapped, waiting to be unwrapped at the right time and this was the right time.”

Indeed. To report a story like that — to track down and interview somebody’s high-school classmates from a half-century ago — must have taken many weeks, if not months. The writing and editing of a 5,000-word story is not easy work. If you cranked out a thousand words a day (quite a rigorous pace, for original reporting), that’s a full week just to write the story, once you’d done all the interviews.

So, yeah, maybe they had it “shrink-wrapped,” ready to go.

UPDATE II: To give you some understanding of what it takes to produce 5,000 words of original reporting, I’ll cite a an article I wrote for the print edition of the American Spectator a couple years ago. “Battle Cry in the North Country” was 1,417 words and was written during a daylong gonzo frenzy in an airport lounge in Buffalo, N.Y., after I’d spent three weeks covering the Doug Hoffman campaign in NY-23. (I’d only been told that morning that I’d have to file by 5 p.m. to be able to get it in the December-January print edition.)

Cranking out 1,400 words in a single day left me completely fried. Now, try thinking about the amount of work needed to produce an article more than three times that long.

UPDATE III: You might ask, “How can the Washington Post afford to make such a massive investment of journalistic resources in vetting a politician’s activities in high school 50 years ago?” Well, if you’re willing to lose $22.6 million in a single three-month period . . .

UPDATE IV: Yeah, you get in a hurry on a 5,000-word story, and you’re bound to make a few mistakes, like claiming a guy has “long been bothered” by an incident he didn’t even know about until your reporter asked him about it. (Hat-tip: Ace of Spades.)



33 Responses to “Probably Just a Coincidence”

  1. smitty
    May 10th, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    @rsmccain You say WaPoo, I say “macaca”.

  2. PhillyCon
    May 10th, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Seriously, is anyone shocked?  They are going to pull out all the stops to protect their Lightbringer … its full on Alinsky all the way to November.  Expect it to get worse.

  3. JeffS
    May 10th, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

    Obama, upon witnessing the latest media contortions in his favor:

    “Breathtaking. I shall call them… Mini-Me“.

  4. rosalie
    May 10th, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

    Fight fire with fire and be relentless. 

  5. Shawn Gillogly
    May 10th, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

     Romney? Fight? This was the guy who didn’t run for re-election when the media was hard on him as Gov. The only people he knows how to fight are conservatives.

    As to the topic, I like to turn out 1750 words a day, 5 days a week, and completed NaNoWriMo this past Nov. But that’s fiction. 😉 Original fiction, mind you. But still 😛

  6. steveegg
    May 10th, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    Not only was it a 5,000-word pre-packaged hit piece, but it was a “fake but accurate” 5,000-word pre-packaged hit piece.

    The WaPo’s named source wasn’t even there.

  7. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 10th, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    Since we are talking high school, we can talk about Barack Obama’s high school years too…and his participation in “Big Comrades”?

  8. ThePaganTemple
    May 10th, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    The guy they’re talking about whom Mitt picked on turns out has been dead since, I think, sometime in the nineties. I’m surprised they haven’t tried to imply he was so devastated by Mitt’s treatment of him that he might have committed suicide. Or maybe that’s coming next, depending of course on the circumstances of his death, whether or not there is a question as to why he died at such a relatively early age, and whether there is any other lingering question marks about his death. Plus, I guess they haven’t had time to conduct adequate poll tests yet of potential reactions to such a charge.

  9. Just think what The Washington Post could find if they actually vetted Obama’s past? « The Daley Gator
    May 10th, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

    […] years? Did he have close ties with unrepentent terrorists? No, nothing unimportant like that. No, according to Stacy McCain, Romney might have been involved in some really dire stuff. Something like Watergate, but more […]

  10. Bob Belvedere
    May 10th, 2012 @ 7:33 pm
  11. Pathfinder's wife
    May 10th, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

    Imagine that; the media helping to prepare the ground for Obama…

    The description of the high school was a particularly inspired touch (actually better than the description of the incident itself).

  12. fondatori
    May 10th, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Damn you Romney!  I bet you messed up Travolta’s head too!

  13. Romney Bullied a Boy, Obama Bullied a Girl | The Lonely Conservative
    May 10th, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    […] the thread at memeorandum. You’d think Romney had murdered someone.Update 2: Be sure to read The Other McCain‘s post on the subject and just how much went into this WaPo hit job.google_ad_client = […]

  14. Wombat_socho
    May 10th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

     Of course not! RAAAAACIST!

  15. Wombat_socho
    May 10th, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

     I’ve written fiction, and I’ve written news articles. News is a lot harder.

  16. Wombat_socho
    May 10th, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

     Bah. We can be sure Johnny Boy got his headspace messed up at the Co$. For which he paid far, far out the ass.

  17. Charles
    May 10th, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

    If that girls turn out to be gay …

  18. Charles
    May 10th, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

    This sort of thing, give the hippie a haircut, was actually not uncommon during the mid 1960s and 1970s.  My high school Voc Ag teacher told us of his aggie frat brothers at the Univeristy of Missouri catching an underclassman and giving him a haircut with a pair of sheep shears.

    In my own high school FFA initiation in the late 1970s we had a guy who was very vain about his hair. He was pinned down while someone rubbed vaseline into it. Like the guy in the story, he also didn’t come back to school for several days – until he was able to wash out the vaseline with gasoline and the natural sheen came back – he was vain about his hair, as I said.

    Now what we are talking about here is hazing. And when it is done with a certain flair and without permanent harm it can be shocking but funny and essentially harmless. When it rises to the level of beating someone to death as recently happened in Florida, that’s something else.

  19. Jeremy
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:11 am

    Kinda like LaAmours books, if you describe the landscape in accurate detail, the rest becomes believable.

  20. jeremy
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:15 am

    Just Wow! When Mitt was a kid, he acted like, gasp, a kid. How long until the media gats arround to ObamAA+s college transcripts? Or his high school records? or his ……… need I go on?

  21. Adjoran
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:23 am

     I’d be happy to get his college transcripts.

  22. Adjoran
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:38 am

    Another way of looking at it:  the average op-ed column runs about 750 words.  That’s just opinion, respectable writers check their own facts before submitting, but there’s no “reporting” to it.  A guy who turns out three of those a week of any reasonable quality (translation:  that readers want to read) would generally be “full time” at it.   Not an easy task. 

    Just the length of the piece would be more than two weeks’ worth of work at it for the writing alone, not mentioning the time spent tracking down and interviewing potential witnesses.  I’d be shocked and impressed if the thing didn’t take three weeks to put together, and would think it would be a several more weeks’ project for most reporters.

    Stacy, your nearly 1500 word piece on short notice was extraordinary, which is probably why it sticks in your mind.  But your reporting was all done when you got the deadline, and I’m guessing the number of times you’ve had to produce that sort of lineage in a day’s time wouldn’t require all the fingers on one hand in your career. 

    So yeah, this was worked on, prepared, the “gay” angle may or may not have been added as a result of the Obama campaign’s needs of the moment.  But I doubt it was coordinated, because the Romney story isn’t of the nature of the President’s pronouncement, which affects our entire society, and will likely fizzle out quickly.  A coordinated roll-out would have had it a week before or after Barry’s Big Gay Boat Ride.

    The good news is they have to go back to high school capers for this, 1965, which invites the question of why Obama’s college records are so secret and ignored by the media.

  23. Adjoran
    May 11th, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    Rut-roh – turns out the family of the alleged victim says the story was inaccurate and they resent it being used for political purposes.

    Man, they are determined to throw as much mud as they can before they shut down for good, aren’t they?

  24. robertstacymccain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 2:30 am

    Stacy, your nearly 1500 word piece on short notice was extraordinary . . .  I’m guessing the number of times you’ve had to produce that sort of lineage in a day’s time wouldn’t require all the fingers on one hand in your career.

    Early in my career, I was a sports editor for a weekly paper. That  sometimes required a massive all-nighter to hit the once-a-week deadline. So cranking out high quantities of copy at high speed was a survival skill. But anyone who’s ever cranked it like that knows, some post-deadline recovery is necessary. I suppose it is possible that the WaPo writer could have cranked out 5,000 words in an insane three-day frenzy, but it’s far more likely he spent at least a week on the writing part of the article, following several weeks of reporting.

    But … why assign a writer to spend so much time digging around on Romney’s high-school days? Kind of an over-investment, don’t you think?

  25. Adjoran
    May 11th, 2012 @ 2:53 am

     Hey, you think it’s EASY to lose $7 million a month?  You’ve got to be creative, boldly go where no one cares to have gone before.

    Their first Romney scandal was 30 years ago, now we are going back over 50 years to find a HS prank and lying about it.  But no one knows how a self-described poor student at a mid-level college gets a 3rd year transfer to Columbia (usually you needed top grades and more, then as now) or a Columbia grad without honors gets into Harvard Law.

    They are striking at phantoms in desperation, and it is only May.

  26. rosalie
    May 11th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    But is O going to apologize for bullying a black girl?  I’m highly annoyed with Romney for apologizing.  

  27. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Answer: When you want to avoid talking Obama’s record or the economy at any cost » Datechguy's Blog
    May 11th, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    […] Stacy McCain points out The typical news story is 450-750 words. Five thousand words is enough copy to fill two entire […]

  28. ThePaganTemple
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:50 am

     Wouldn’t that be like fifteen pages of regular lined writing paper?

  29. ‘BullyGate’: What Did Jason Horowitz Know, and When Did He Know It? : The Other McCain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

    […] Pulitzer for WaPo? UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? WTF?May 10: Probably Just a CoincidenceCategory: Election 2012, Journalism, Media Bias, Mitt RomneyComments /*DA TECH GUY: Hey, remember […]

  30. Pathfinder's wife
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    I’m thinking the landscape was the thing they most wanted to insinuate — the richey rich a-hole is going to be a meme this election cycle methinks.

    Instead of apologizing (ok, apologize — it was the sort of thing that would get you shamed and possibly spanked in most respectful homes — but use the moment to 1) point out how stupid a thing to bring up; 2) point out that by focusing on stupid bs a lot of very important things are not being brought up: right now I think American citizens are feeling a wee bit bullied, no?  American troops, probably feeling a wee bit bullied, yes?  and by their own freaking government!  Now there’s a bullying story!).

    Ah, phffft, what’s the use….

  31. Hard Times in WaPoVille: ‘BullyGate’ Timing Questioned on ‘Morning Joe’ : The Other McCain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

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  32. David Govett
    May 11th, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    I’ve never lied to get votes.
    I’d make a terrible politician.

  33. Bob’s Musings: « The Camp Of The Saints
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