They Report, You Deride

Dan Riehl catches The Politico‘s Roger Simon (not to be confused with the blogger of the same name) in some biased reporting on a recent Fred Thompson campaign stop in Iowa. Here’s how The Politico put it:

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.

“You look cute,” Thompson said to her. She did.

Unfortunately for The Politico, a CBS News reporter happened to be there and captured the actual event:

Instead of the awkward moment that Simon portrayed, it was a good-natured exchange between Thompson, his wife, and the firemen. Besides, there’s a good reason why politicians should be careful about wearing inappropriate headgear. Indeed, Simon has a history of being down on Fred as a candidate.

This just goes to show how the media doesn’t always give you the straight story. With the advent of things like YouTube it’s harder for people to get away with these mischaracterizations. The media has a narrative, and sometimes that narrative and reality don’t occupy the same ZIP code.

There have been many criticisms of Thompson’s campaign style (or lack thereof). Given that Thompson is on a major bus tour of Iowa, visiting 54 of the state’s 99 countries in the days before Christmas, that narrative might end up haunting the media. Iowa’s voters tend not to do what the media thinks they’ll do, which makes for a much more interesting race. When you’re locked into one mode of looking at the world, it’s much more difficult to see the nuances that can quickly decide a race as close as this one.