Betsy Newmark gives us a sneak preview of how the media would treat a Mitt Romney presidential candidacy:
No one would attack him explicitly on his religion. That would be too crass. Instead, the media would run human interest stories on the history of the Mormon church, warts and all. We’d read again about Joseph Smith getting the word from the Angel Maroni with the Book of Mormon on golden plates. We’d learn about the persecution suffered by the early Mormons and the assassination of Joseph Smith and how Brigham Young led the Mormons across the country to Utah. Vivid stories of the Mountain Meadow Massacre would appear on the History Channel. The history of Mormons and polygamy would be introduced in segments on the evening news as well as the fact that the Mormons allowed black ministers only in 1978 and women in 1984. Newsweek and Time would have cover stories looking at the tenets of the Mormon religion with special attention to baptism of dead ancestors, their lack of belief in the Trinity, their conviction that God has a physical body, and their condemnation of homosexuality. All this will be presented in the same self-satisfied anthropological tone that the MSM uses to talk about most religious people today. And then every time Romney goes on a Sunday talk show like Meet the Press, he’ll get a series of questions asking him to defend the history of the Mormon Church and whether or not he believes in every controversial tenet of the religion. He’ll get questions that no one would ever ask an Orthodox Jew like Joe Lieberman or a Catholic like John Kerry or a Protestant like Gore, Clinton, or Bush.
Then the media will have their own navel-gazing shows on CNN and Fox or in self-examining symposia on C-Span and ask if it’s “really appropriate” for the media to be questioning a political candidate on his religious beliefs. They’ll make disapproving noises, condemn themselves, but ultimately, they’ll go on doing the same thing. Just like they tut-tut their coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, but just can’t stop themselves from doing it night after night. Because, they’ll say “you know, his religion really is a political issue.” After all, if it weren’t a political issue, the media wouldn’t be talking about it, would they? The circularity of this argument will elude them.
Read the rest–most of what she’s predicting is, sadly, a pretty safe bet.