Frank Bruni explains how it’s done: This morning, in the New York Times, Frank Bruni explains how it’s done.
He files his column from Tampa. We’re puzzled by the first part of the highlighted statement below.
But after that, Bruni tells all. This is how the press corps works:
BRUNI (8/28/12): Romney’s a strange cake. He has racked up impressive accomplishments in both the private and the public sectors, including his Massachusetts health care reforms. He’s a man of serious abilities. But he seems unable to accept that a presidential campaign demands more than a résumé. It demands an audible heartbeat, a palpable soul.We’re puzzled by the first part of the highlighted statement. If so many “talented journalists” are down there in Tampa, why can’t some of these people get jobs with our major newspapers?
His are kept firmly under wraps. In the prelude to the convention, talented journalist after talented journalist set off in search of them, looking for the eureka anecdote, the tear-streaked epiphany. It was a quest as pointless and poignant as any I can recall. You can’t add a John Williams score to a corporate balance sheet. You can’t turn venture capital into “Terms of Endearment.”
Whatever! As he continues, Bruni coins a wonderful phrase, letting us see how the press corps works. As our journalists hunt down a candidate, they seek “the eureka anecdote!”
Plainly, that’s true; it’s also sad. The children want some simple-minded tale which will reveal a candidate to us. What happens when children think this way?
We’re happy to show you! Bruni starts his column with what he calls “my favorite Mitt Romney story.” Pitifully enough, here it is:
BRUNI: My favorite Mitt Romney story comes not from his current campaign, though it has certainly yielded a bounty of priceless Mitticisms, but from his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy.That is Bruni’s favorite! It happened eighteen years ago. He wasn’t there to observe Romney's telling conduct.
He’s at a convenience store near Boston, pressing the flesh, when he spies a woman about a dozen feet away. She exhibits no evident interest in his advance. He hustles toward her nonetheless, fleet of step and silver of tongue.
“Don’t run away!” is his smooth come-on.
She lifts her left hand, a gesture that could be a tepid, dismissive wave or, maybe, an attempt to cover her face.
“I know,” he says, sympathizing with her standoffishness. “You haven’t got your makeup on yet.”
She corrects him: she does.
“You do! You do!” he chirps, shaking her right hand with an almost manic vigor. “Good to see you!”
That said, this is the way the children “cover” our White House campaigns. It doesn’t occur to them that Romney’s ludicrous policy proposals might provide a “eureka moment.”
The children want to tell us a story. That policy shit is dull.
As it happens, one of our favorite Bruni stories comes from 2002. In March of that year, Bruni published Ambling into History, his book about covering the Bush campaign. He started the book with a very strange story about Candidate Bush.
He described a very strange thing the candidate did in September 1999. But how odd! This very strange conduct was never reported in the New York Times, the major newspaper Bruni served as daily Bush reporter.
Bruni thought this story was so revealing that he used it to open his book. In real time, no report of Bush’s strange conduct ever appeared in the Times. (For link, see below.)
Ditto for a second anecdote from Bruni’s book. In this case, Bruni revealed that he thought Bush was blowing the election in the first Bush-Gore debate, he was performing so badly.
How strange! In real time, Bruni’s next-day profile in the Times made Candidate Gore look bad! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/18/02.
People are dead all over the world because of the coverage of Campaign 2000. (Liberals have agreed not to say so, of course.) Bruni wrote a good column a few days ago. But these would be our eureka anecdotes concerning this talented journalist.
A note on the start of that book: We’re surprised to see that we’ve never described the way Bruni opened his book here at THE DAILY HOWLER.
To read about Candidate Bush’s strange conduct, see Chapter 5 of our companion site, How He Got There. Click here, then search on Bruni.
Bruni opened his book with this eureka anecdote. For good or for ill, it never appeared in the Times.