Ron Radosh

The Washington Post's New Hit Job on Mitt Romney

The mainstream media has hailed President Obama’s decision to come out in favor of gay marriage, only criticizing him for dragging his feet on the issue. By staying on message and emphasizing the economy, Mitt Romney is trying not to get sidetracked into yet another side issue.

But will the MSM let him do that? Not if they can help it. Yesterday the Washington Post ran a front page story, which extended many pages, depicting Romney as a bully and homophobe via a 50-year-old incident. According to the story, Romney led a group of fellow students from the elite Cranbrook School to cut the long bleach-blonde hair of a quiet student named John Lauber, who later came out as being gay.

Here is the very first paragraph, where reporter Jason Horowitz says Romney “stopped something he thought did not belong” at the school:

Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

How, one wonders, does Horowitz know this, since he never interviewed Romney, who has said in a TV interview that he doesn’t even remember the incident? Even if the act took place — and it was ugly and inexcusable despite different cultural mores in that era — is it even relevant to make something that Romney engaged in fifty years ago an issue in the campaign? To ask that is to answer the question. Of course the Post should not have run the story. The sole reason for it is to depict Romney in an unsympathetic manner.

Scores of people can recall things they did in high school that they deeply regret. Indeed, incidents in which I was the victim in summer camp traumatized me, and I recall myself engaging in similar actions against other campers in order to get in with the group and not make myself an outcast. (Yes, I am being more than vague here about what happened, but I still recall the incident in question.) I grew up. I am not the same person I was over fifty years ago, and certainly Mitt Romney is not either.

The story goes on to put Romney down in other ways. Readers learn that he was proud of his family’s wealth, looked down on those who were scholarship students, and was “bowled over by the wealth of some of his friends,” particularly diplomat Max Fisher, who had a home movie theater with numbered seats in his house. You get the idea? Mitt Romney is not your average Joe, and he does not care for the working stiff. You know, the exact group of swing voters that had become Reagan Democrats and that the Republicans need to get back to their ticket come November.

Now, our colleagues at have reported that the Post story was inaccurate in major regards. One witness, Stu White, told ABC News that although he had been quoted as having “long been bothered” about Romney’s prank, he was not there, and didn’t know about it until this year! Rather than issue a retraction or correction, the paper rewrote Jason Horowitz’s original story to change it to read that White was “disturbed” about the incident after the Post told him about it! The paper’s editors did not inform readers that they had changed the text of the original story.

Moreover, Lauber’s sister, Christine, told ABC News that she knew nothing of the bullying incident. The late John Lauber’s other sister, Betsy, issued the following statement:

The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family.

Said Christine, “If he were alive today, he would be furious [about the story].”

Nevertheless, the Post report makes it appear that John Lauber, who died of liver cancer in 2004, had a hard and dissolute life because of the prank played upon him at Cranbrook so many years ago. Readers can decide  for themselves whether or not that was the case. But Lauber got a seaman’s license at the University of the Seven Seas, graduated from Vanderbilt University in English, rode horses with the famous Royal Lipizzaner Stallion riders, and worked as a chef in various places, including cooking for American troops in Iraq. His life choices were his own, and no one can prove that Mitt Romney’s forced haircut had anything to do with his successes or his failures.

The major point was well put by Christine Lauber. The Washington Post and other media sources wrote and ran the story for a political agenda: to paint Romney in a bad light and to make voters — especially gay voters — turn against him.

Thankfully, we have an alternative media — like PJM — that calls them out and does not let them get away with such mischief.

Image courtesy shutterstock and Aleksandar Bozhikov