Bookergate is Shiny

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 21 2012 2:25 PM

Bookergate is Shiny

Last week, as the Joe Ricketts/Jeremiah Wright storm raged around her, WaPo blogger/Romney sympathizer Jennifer Rubin called on the media to stop falling for the lastest campaign crap. "Unfortunately," she wrote, "the way the media works, in herdlike fashion, as soon as a major outlet holds up the next 'shiny object,' other outlets follow suit. Well, the New York Times is covering it! News judgment goes out the window, and any sense of proportion fades not only for the outlet that first held up the 'shiny object' but for the whole news corps."

My question: Does Bookergate qualify? The Romney campaign is spending all day "messaging" Cory Booker's Meet the Press comments, raising the stakes with a profoundly dramatic video ad that's intended to further the "Booker SLAMS Obama" story. Did you know that former congressman and frequent Morning Joe guest Harold Ford is a "key Obama supporter," and not just a has-been now working for Merrill Lynch?

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It's nice, hot gruel for political reporters/readers, but... isn't it also a distraction? Ideally, yes, the Obama campaign would be talking about Bain Capital with no strong response from the Romney camapign. But would the media cover the re-heated, microwaved Bain stories the same way? No -- you need some sort of fight to make them worth covering. And here we are, talking about Bain, instead of talking about the economy, or Israel, or one of the things the Romney campaign enjoys discussing.

So, is it shiny? I check Rubin's blog, and I see that she hasn't deigned to cover it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.