I again ask who is in charge of the Romney campaign when it comes to imagery. The good news for Romney supporters: the campaign has abruptly changed its mind and will honor the agree with the media and allow reporters inside of a Jerusalem fund raiser. The bad news: this is yet another unncessary, distracting, negative story that did not have to happen on Romney foreign trip. The latest from CNN:
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign reversed its decision to bar reporters from an upcoming fund-raiser in Jerusalem, saying on Sunday it will now allow a pool of journalists to cover the presumptive GOP nominee’s remarks.
The reporters, however, will be escorted out before Romney takes questions from the audience during the event on Monday.
Make sure to read my earlier post below after the update. This still ensures that Romney is almost consciously trying to make an enemy of the press, almost daring them to find out what he has said, what’s in the documents he is revealing, etc. It will also likely mean his campaign assertions will be vetted for accuracy more than ever before because he still comes across as someone who is trying to hide things from the press — and vogers. More from the update:
The earlier decision not to permit reporters had marked a change in practice from an agreement the campaign and media outlets, including CNN, reached with the campaign last spring.
Romney press aide Rick Gorka previously told reporters following Romney on his international trip that the fund-raiser was closed to the press, but offered no explanation as to why. Romney touched down Saturday in Israel and will head later to Poland.
A rotating small number of reporters attend the candidate’s fund-raisers held in public places – such as Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, the site of Monday’s event – and share their reporting with other outlets, but reporters are not allowed into Romney’s fund-raisers in private homes.
Several reporters attended part of Romney’s fundraiser in London on Thursday.
Among those who may attend the fund-raiser is billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the major Republican donor who last month donated millions to the primary super PAC supporting Romney.
The campaign of President Barack Obama allows a similar pool of reporters to attend some Obama campaign fund-raisers, excluding those at which Obama will not deliver remarks. Some of those venues have included hotel fund-raisers.
Here’s the earlier post:
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney must be very sure that he will prevail in the end because he is creating a press narrative that is like an almost too simple jigsaw puzzle. He is all-but saying to editors that they need to scrutinize him and find out more about what he is not disclosing. And he is all but assuring that all major news organizations (except perhaps Fox News) will be assigning reporters to fact check his every assertion and to probe more than ever every aspect of his life.
How else can you explain the campaign breaking an actual agreement with the news media and reusing to let reporters into a Jersualem fund-raiser? Let’s take an extensive look at this Washington Post report:
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who touched down here Saturday night for a day of meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders, plans to wrap up his visit to Israel by collecting money from some of his biggest benefactors behind closed doors.
Some of Romney’s Jewish donors are flying here from the United States to attend the Jerusalem fundraiser on Monday morning, including Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to personally give tens of millions of dollars to a pro-Romney super PAC.
The bottom half of this report is evidence that his campaign is all but daring the press to find out more about him than he wishes:
But Romney’s campaign announced Saturday that it would block the news media from covering the event, which will be held at the King David Hotel. The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination and began opening some of his finance events to the news media.
This adds to the narrative emerging of Romney as someone whose words can’t be trusted because he will change positions or in this case discard a previous agreement, almost as if he’s saying “Well, waddayagoingtodoaboddit?”
Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences.
That would be bad enough.
But just read his campaign’s response:
Campaign spokesman Rick Gorka declined to explain the campaign’s decision to violate protocol with the Jerusalem event. Pressed repeatedly by reporters to offer an explanation, Gorka said only that the fundraiser was “closed press.”
“That’s all I’ve got for you — it’s closed press,” Gorka said.
All of this is important because it’s now a piece in a puzzle of a candidate who at a time when “transparency” is at least an articulated goal, is the anti-transparency.
If anything, Romney is resembling more of a Nixonesque figure in constantly seeming to try to deceive – and in the political ballet of American politics it’s unseemly to simply state that blunt truth. He seems to be a political figure fearing to be covered or agressively questioned, someone leaving a path of missing documents that could tell the press (and voters) more about him in his trail.
Tax returns? Only one year and parts of that are missing. Documents from his time at the Olympics? Some are missing. Many emails from his time as governor? His staff erased many of them. His time at Bain? Some documents apparently gone there, too. His bundlers? Romney won’t disclose them.
There is a very clear, increasingly evident pattern to how Romney operates — and it is likely to be seen as a warning flag to some voters.
The question is whether the press indeed does produce some more stories that solve some of the mysteries. And remember: it’s often said that how a candidate campaigns is likely to be how he governs if he wins. Right now the electorate is split 50-50 and the economy is still in lousy shape so there’s an even chance what you see now is what you’ll get in the White House.
UPDATE: The New York Times’ The Caucus blog:
The fund-raiser may be especially delicate for Mr. Romney because of the attendance of Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate who has pledged to spend some $100 million this election to help defeat President Obama, as well as elect Republicans. Though Mr. Adelson first supported Newt Gingrich during the early nominating contests because of his strong support for Israel, he has since thrown his support behind Mr. Romney. Mr. Adelson and his wife recently gave $5 million to a pro-Romney “super PAC.” He flew over to Jerusalem for the weekend to attend the event.
Mr. Romney seems to be taking pains to keep the fund-raiser under wraps. Typically, a small pool of reporters is allowed into fund-raisers held in public locations, in order to provide a written report on Mr. Romney’s remarks. Though there have been a few occasions when the campaign has tried to limit access — citing an especially small venue or the fact that Mr. Romney was not giving formal remarks — this is the first time that a public fund-raiser has been closed without any explanation.
Mr. Romney’s high-dollar event in London on Thursday, held at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, was open to a press pool.
It remains unclear why Mr. Romney wants his remarks to donors in Israel to remain off the record. But earlier in the campaign, Mr. Romney was caught offering a slightly different message behind closed doors than was intended for public consumption. At a private fund-raiser in Florida, Mr. Romney talked about reducing the Department of Education and possibly eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development — hardly standard campaign fare.
“Closed press, closed press, closed press,” a Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said when asked for a comment or explanation.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.