Mitt Romney’s gaffes and sense of entitlement have created a toxic relationship with the press, where he denies them access and then gets headlines that focus on his gaffes. Ann Romney takes on her husband’s bad relationship with the press and his tendency for gaffes by saying, “I’m no mad at the press that I could just strangle them.”
Watch Here on MSNBC’s News Station with Tamron Hall:
Transcript courtesy of MSNBC (slight modifications):
Tamron Hall: Back to decision 2012. Ann’s Romney’s growing frustration with the media covering her husband. She said I’m no mad at the press that I could just strangle them. She said members of the media don’t want to see her husband elected and like to see some of them kicked off the campaign bus. David, thanks for joining us. Ann is an interesting person on many levels like so many women married to politicians. She’s standing there ready to defend her husband. What is this issue with the media. I know she was joking with the strangle remark, but she does have serious concerns with her opinion.
David Catanese: Mitt Romney has one of the worst relationships with the media than any of the candidates on this field. He gives less access to the press than Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum. They don’t get access, which is what they want. Then Romney doesn’t get good headlines. There’s a second part of this. Romney had a tough couple of weeks with scrutiny. It’s story after story. Why won’t the conservatives get on board. Why can’t he clinch this thing. As a spouse it’s natural to get upset and fight for your husband.
Tamron Hall: We know it’s natural and we know the game of politics where the woman is turned into the bossy, overbearing spouse. That doesn’t just happen to Democrats. we see that happen to wives of Republican candidates as well. It is a balance of sticking up for your guy but knowing that the media or some could come back at you.
David Catanese : That’s true. I don’t think there’s an impression of Ann Romney being mean-spirited or going over the lines with the comments. I think it does represent a frustration. It’s probably better coming from her than Mitt Romney. You don’t want the candidate complaining about the coverage. Any time a candidate is complaining, that means they are losing. A lot of people think she’s the warmer person of the two, connects better, has a softer touch. In a way it’s a better argument for her to make.
Tamron Hall: We also know, for example, the first lady, one of the most popular people in Washington, DC., those who are critics of her husband taken shots at her for wanting children to eat healthy or her comments that, I think were taken out of context, when she referred to this country and people tried to beat him over the head for her remarks. Nothing she said is over the top, but we know there are people waiting on the other side to pounce on these spouses.
If Michelle Obama had said something about wanting to strangle anyone, let alone the press, Barack Obama’s candidacy would have been over, but the press is giving Mitt Romney’s wife a pass on this one. David argues that this is because we’re still getting to know Ann Romney and this was one small comment. Yet, one small comment by Michelle Obama regarding being proud of her country in 2008 was used to define her by the opposition. She is still dragged through the mud for this comment by conservative media, four years later.
Either Republicans play a lot dirtier and don’t mind using spouses to attack candidates or the media is applying a different set of standards to Ann Romney, a white woman, than they applied to Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama was not defended with the free pass, “We’re just getting to know her” in 2008.
If a black person had said something that reflected the same sort of violence as Ann Romney’s “joke” — a comment about strangling the press — it would have done serious damage. It would have allowed the media and opposition to stereotypically define both Obamas as “angry black people,” even if said the same way, and from an equally charming and intelligent spouse.
It’s disingenuous for the media to give Ann Romney a “pass” for defending her husband with a joke about strangling the press. It’s not as if this is their first rodeo. They both knew the deal and still they seek the positions. Furthermore, Ann Romney is essentially running for First Lady. Do First Ladies get to make jokes about wanting to strangle irritating heads of state? In what world is “wanting to strangle” the fourth estate, an essential component of our liberty, less of a gaffe than “finally proud of my country”?
The press may be giving Ann a pass, but in addition to her comments about wanting to strangle the press are the comments about wanting to throw certain members of the press off of the campaign bus. This is a larger and more politically relevant issue, for once again we come head to head with the Romney sense of privilege, their ability to control and manipulate their world due to their incredible wealth, and their expectation that this control will and should continue.
Most certainly someone needs to explain to Ann and Mitt that if he is going to run for President, he doesn’t get to choose who gets access to him as a member of the fourth estate and that as President, his responsibility to the people would demand access for the press.