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Flip-flopping, Image-Conscious Romney Gets Pass

Reported by Judy - February 27, 2007 -

Imagine a Massachusetts politician with liberal views on abortion and gay marriage who changes his position while running for higher office and is concerned about such things as how his hair looks. What kind of treatment would he receive from Fox News? With video.

Well, if his name were John Kerry and he were a Democrat, he would be savaged. But if his name is Mitt Romney and he's a Republican, it's just kind of a cute story.

"Fox and Friends" on Tuesday (February 27, 2007) discussed a Romney campaign strategy document called "Primal Code for Brand Romney" obtained by the Boston Globe. The document said Romney's hair looks too perfect and says there is a concern that he's going to be known as "slick" or a "flip-flopper."

This information, however, is nearly lost under a flurry of hair and wig jokes. As co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed the memo, co-host Steve Doocy tugged at his own hair as if it were a wig and giggled.

Not that Kilmeade's commentary was especially hard-hitting. He said, "There's a concern that he's going to be known as a 'slick-dancing Mitt' or a 'flip-flopping Mitt' because he ran for senator in '94 and then he ran for governor and he had slightly different opinions there. And if he wants to win over the conservative base, he's got to have different opinions when it comes to Roe v. Wade. And he's got to have different opinions on gun control. He's now a member of NRA. And there's a fear if he goes in line with pure conservative thought, he'll be known as a flip-flopper. How does he deal with all these things?"

Said co-host Gretchen Carlson: "He uses less conditioner." Later, in discussing the plan's references to problems of other GOP candidates such as Rudy Giuliani's multiple marriages and messy divorce, Doocy said, "We've known about all this stuff."

This memo really is a major embarrassment for Romney's campaign, but the three stooges of news managed to totally undermine the impact of it with their silly antics. If it were Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy, we would be hearing how it shows her to be so calculating in her bid to win the nomination that she even worries about minor details like hair.

And we would be hearing the word "flip-flopping" a lot more coming directly from the hosts as a concern, not something that is being raised in the campaign document.

And the comments about the other candidates in the race would be framed as ways that Clinton was planning to attack them, not just as things that we've heard before.

This video is a classc in the way that Fox News treats embarrassing news for GOP candidates. They turn it into a joke, downplay it, and attribute it to other sources rather than make the charges their own as they do for Democratic candidates.

They reported it, but they did it in such a way that the viewer misses the full impact.