Journalists were as invested as anyone in Mitt Romney‘s VP pick. After all, they’re the ones stuck covering these two for the next three-plus months. Pawlenty and Portman: Boring with two capital P’s.
But Paul Ryan? He puts a spring in their step.
This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” TIME‘s Mark Halperin spoke of what he suspects will be a shift in coverage with the Ryan choice. Granted, his remarks might cause his colleagues to avoid him on the bus and not because he forgot mouthwash. “Another constituency he has, almost every national political reporter knows Paul Ryan and likes Paul Ryan more than they do Mitt Romney and that gives Romney a little bit of an edge he was missing, which was pro-Obama in the press corps,” he said.
Sirius XM P.O.T.U.S. Channel’s Julie Mason bristled at the idea that Ryan would bring positive coverage or that journos are in the tank for Obama. “Hill reporters respect Ryan, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into more positive coverage — especially if the campaign’s posture is still limited access, few press conferences and only friendly, safe interviews,” she said this morning by email. “And the idea that the press corps is pro-Obama is frankly laughable. So 2007!”
Breitbart.com editor John Nolte, not one to go easy on the “mainstream media”, calls bullshit on Halperin’s assessment. “I’m on vacation – headed to Ryan Country for a week – my home state of Wisconsin, so I didn’t see Morning Joe (part of my vacation is from insufferable smug),” he wrote in an email. “While I’m glad Halperin was able to openly admit what I like to call The Glaringly Obvious — that the media is in the tank for Obama — I know a hustle when I hear one. Halperin is hoping that by telling us the media likes and respects Ryan and will therefore treat him with anything approaching objectivity, that the Romney-Ryan ticket and those of us in their camp will think that makes sense. Except…it’s a trap.”
Still, Bloomberg‘s Al Hunt sounded pretty chipper about the Ryan pick. “Well Joe, they say in politics that all politics is local,” he said on “Morning Joe.” “I think it’s true in journalism too. It makes it a better race. It makes it more fun to cover. Other than Chris Christie I can’t think of a more interesting choice.”
And neither can Reuter‘s political scribe Sam Youngman, who sees the pick as an illicit drug. “Yeah, this is gonna be fun. The pick just added layers of meaning and consequence to a race that was starting to feel like a horrible movie,” he said. “Ya know, like Ides of March. Now we’re standing at a train station, watching a train that’s going one of two ways – to the White House or off a cliff into a fireworks factory. Put another way, for political junkies, this is the kind of heroin that’s so good it might kill you.”
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell sounded less hooked, but nonetheless enthused. “I think it is the most exciting choice he could have made,” she said on “Morning Joe.”
And indeed, that comfort level with Ryan is there. “Paul Ryan is known to make himself generally available to reporters on Capitol Hill,” Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody said when asked for his reaction. “He doesn’t pretend to take cell phone calls when he spots journos waiting for him on his way to the House floor, so I think there is some optimism about having him on the campaign trail. (Of course, he’s never far from his iPod ear buds.) That’s not to say journalists go easy on Paul Ryan, but the back-and-forth isn’t unsavory.”
But not all political journalists are so fired up about the Ryan choice. “Everyone loves Rob Portman,” said a longtime journalist on condition of anonymity. “He is a total leaking sieve. No one in D.C. really knows Pawlenty. Honestly, I don’t get the sense that anyone really cares about this pick. It’s neither exciting nor anti-climactic. It just sort of….sits there. Like, ‘Oh. Him. OK.’ I mean, now — Rick Perry. That would have been bold!”
Often what appeals to reporters most is the element of surprise. And for Real Clear Politics‘ political reporter Erin McPike, the Ryan pick has at least some of the elements Halperin spoke of this morning — the Press Corps’ ease with Ryan and the unexpected way the story broke. She’s hoping Ryan’s presence means media access will improve.
“It wasn’t what most reporters were expecting, so of course that makes it more exciting,” she told FishbowlDC. “Add to that how it broke – late on a Friday night, and you definitely get the press corps fired up. Paul Ryan is someone that the DC press corps has gotten to know well. We know what he listens to on his iPod when he’s walking through the Cannon tunnel, for one thing, because he talks to us. We know answers about the Ryan budget because he talks to us. And for a GOP campaign that has been inaccessible and has avoided answering specific policy questions, in some way it certainly changes the game.”
But Breitbart.com‘s Nolte is beyond skeptical.
“The media heckles and taunts Mitt Romney on sacred ground in Poland, the media reads Romney’s mind from 50 years ago so they can call him a prep school gay basher — the DAY AFTER Obama stops lying about his position on same-sex marriage,” he said. “So if Halperin thinks we’re going to in any way let our guard down now that our VP candidate is an attractive, unapologetic conservative threat to Their Precious One — I say nice try.”
Correction: The copy above initially had Hunt with WSJ. Clearly he’s Bloomberg.