The 2012 presidential campaign is taking a weird turn for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, as major news outlets are dwelling on his campaign’s troubles with Rupert Murdoch, and not other political issues that could bolster Romney’s campaign.
On Friday, a government economic report showed job growth slowing again and the national unemployment rate unchanged. The news should play into Romney’s argument that he is a better candidate to manage the economy, because of his business background.
But the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN were all widely reporting, in different levels of detail, Murdoch’s public displeasure with the tone of Romney’s campaign.
The spat is one of the signs that traditional campaign haggling is now taking in place in public, on the Internet and on social media sites like Twitter, and not in smoke-filled back rooms.
Murdoch, the owner of News Corp., set off the latest round of criticisms on his Twitter account, in a series of messages.
A blistering editorial followed in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The newspaper, which has a huge online presence and is owned by Murdoch, took Romney to task and called his campaign “politically dumb.”
By Friday, the Washington Post was reporting Romney would add to his communications staff to appease the conservative backlash from Murdoch and others.
To note, the Washington Post and the New York Times are chief rivals to Murdoch publications like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker reported that by Thursday night, criticism from Murdoch, The Wall Street Journal, talk radio host Laura Ingraham and commentator Bill Kristol forced the Romney team to add some seasoned communications pros to the campaign.
Romney’s conservative critics were unhappy with a perceived lack of aggressiveness and a botched message from Romney’s camp about the Supreme Court’s decision to consider the individual mandate as a tax.
Longtime Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom went off point this week, telling the media the individual mandate wasn’t a tax, a move that forced Romney to deny his own adviser’s statement.
The New York Times, a bitter Murdoch rival, took great details on Thursday to breakdown the disagreements between Murdoch and Romney, talking to sources allegedly in the room during meetings between the two men.
An interesting side note in the New York Times story is that Murdoch wanted tough-talking New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as the party’s candidate.
Still, Murdoch has publicly said Romney is his candidate in one of his highly publicized Twitter messages.
“Romney people upset at me! Of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc but should listen to good advice and get stuck in!,” he said on Monday.
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