The guild explains the guild: Back in November, Michael Barbaro hit the front page of the New York Times with a detailed, thoughtful report about Mitt Romney’s hair style.
On Saturday, he reported on Romney’s “major policy speech” about the economy. Or rather, he reported about all the empty seats he was able to see in Detriot's Ford Field, where Romney gave this address. Like many of his colleagues, the empty young fellow had been badly distracted by all those unused seats.
In his non-report news report on the speech, Barbaro ignored what Romney said and explained why this widespread distraction occurred.
First, the background. At the start of his report, Barbaro rattled the basic events of the day. Romney was giving a major address. But here’s how reporters reacted:
BARBARO (2/25/12): Mitt Romney set out on Friday to deliver a sweeping and sober vision for how to revive the American economy in a major policy speech here. In the end, he delivered something else as well: an unintended lesson about how poor visuals and errant words can derail a candidate's message in this modern political news culture.The age of Twitter made them do it! Somehow, the age of Twitter explained the way the reporters stampeded, posting pictures online which showed the stadium from every available angle. “Row after row of barren blue seats across the giant stadium made the crowd seem minuscule,” Barbaro wrote as he continued. “Through the rapid-fire, reality-reshaping powers of the Web, a storyline for the day began to take hold that undercut and detracted from Mr. Romney's words: big speech, tiny crowd.”
In an unusual choice, Mr. Romney gave his speech inside Ford Field, a cavernous indoor football stadium with 65,000 seats.
To the television audience, it appeared perfectly normal. Mr. Romney could be seen standing at a lectern in front of a backdrop that had the logo of the Detroit Economic Club, the event's host. And when the stadium audience of about 1,200 people clapped, they filled the screen as cameras panned across them.
But in the age of Twitter and the Internet, that is not all that matters.
Before Mr. Romney had uttered a word, reporters began posting pictures online showing the stadium from every available angle—almost empty, except for the chairs set up on the field itself, near the 20-yard line.
Big speech, tiny crowd? Folk like this are easily mocked. At any rate, the reality-reshaping powers of the Web created a storyline for the day! This is the way these pitiful children explain their own disorders.
What really explains the way the children began posting all those photos? As he continued, silly boy Barbaro let the cat out of the bag. A mordant laugh escaped our lips as we pondered his scribbles:
BARBARO: Ordinarily, such imagery might be overwhelmed by the news of the day: a highly anticipated, substantive address packed with previously unknown details. Mr. Romney called for a 20 percent cut in income taxes; handing control of federal welfare programs to the states; and creating private sector competition for Medicare services."Of course!" It was the fault of the Romney campaign! They had leaked most of the content the day before! There was nothing left for the children to do but to gaze all about the venue!
But the Romney campaign had leaked most of the speech's contents several days ago, leaving members of the news media with little to focus on—except, of course, the scene itself.
In this passage, Barbaro tells you a secret: The empty minds of the modern-day “press corps” can’t focus on even the biggest issues for more than one day. Presumably, Romney’s proposals for the economy represent the most important part of his campaign. But in a nation where very few people understand anything about any of this, these silly children can’t think of a way to wrote two reports on this topic.
Only naturally, their attention wandered.
People, Twitter made them do it! That and the reality-shaping powers of the Web! Plus it was the Romney camp’s fault! Of course, the children have always been good at this skill—the skill known as making excuses.
The dog on the roof of the car ate their homework! Barbaro typed a brilliant text, a text which explains your world.
Please read all the way to the end: Barbaro went on and on with endless streams of irrelevant drivel. By the time you were done, you knew that Candidate Obama gave a speech in Boise to 14,000 people.
You still didn't know what Romney had said in his major address.