The quasi-Republican former ambassador to China is finding the media environment filled with love. Huntsman, who was also the governor of Utah, is trying to position himself as “electable” because liberals, gays and the media love him. (Yes, sometimes those three groups aren’t identical.)
They love him because he’s the kind of Republican they could vote for if they held their noses and someone forced them to choose a GOP candidate. (Actually, they wouldn’t, but it makes a convenient fiction.) After all, they claim, he’s a “moderate Republican.” Remember when we had “liberal Republicans?” According to Nexis, that term hasn’t been used on ABC, CBS or NBC all year.
What else do you call a pro-gay Republican who not only worked for Obama and called him a “remarkable leader,” but still has “respect” for the president after ObamaCare and a host of other Big Government fiascos. Throw in Huntsman’s lefty views on climate and what the Club for Growth calls “inexcusable” spending as governor, and you have an ideal media candidate.
Hence, Huntsman mania. No organization is more in love with this piece of presidential timber than Politico. The politics junkie outlet writes about Huntsman every day and twice on Sundays. From January through June 21, Politico has had more than 330 stories mentioning Huntsman, despite the fact that GOP voters don’t know who he is or care. (They are writing so fast, I can’t keep up. On June 22, they added eight more – as of 5:38 p.m.)
Still, Politico’s propagandized readers get bombarded with feel-good Huntsman stories such as: “Jon Huntsman, the rock ’n’ roll years,” “Huntsman to take page from Reagan,” or “Huntsman's theme: ‘Leadership.’” We are told about “Huntsman fears growing at Team Obama,” without it dawning on the Politico scribes that Team Obama fears him out of similarity not difference.
Contrast that with former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain whom many thought won the first GOP debate, has a strong Tea Party base of support, polls better and even Politico admits “when it comes to passion, Herman Cain has the lead.” Cain was only mentioned in 283 stories even though he’s been in the race longer.
Of course, Huntsman has the right (or left) kind of support. So that makes it all OK.
Then there’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chiming in on the fellow Mormon. “If I had a choice, I would favor Huntsman over Romney,” said Reid. That’s only fair since Huntsman “appointed Reid’s son, Josh, to Utah’s Board of Regents” and Huntsman’s family has given Reid’s Senate campaign more than $25,000.
Why stop there? Former Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., says Huntsman is “an estimable figure who has obvious potential to threaten the 2008 Obama coalition.” Much has been written about Huntsman’s pro-gay strategy. The “gay advocacy website” On Top magazine called Huntsman “a gay rights ally.” And, of course, McCain campaign alumni were helping Huntsman behind the scenes.
Then there are the supposedly neutral news folks. Journalists have set this up as a battle of the businessmen – pitting Huntsman against one top GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Naturally, given the nation’s high unemployment rate, horrible economy and fears of a double-dip recession, a businessman might fare well this election. But it’s a battle the media have already decided Romney should lose.
Romney is portrayed as dance-crazed Mormon, flitting across the cover of Newsweek – his head superimposed on the body of an actor from the new Mormon musical. Journalists from CNN, The New York Times and other outlets jumped all over Romney's “I'm also unemployed” joke, but Obama’s insensitive “shovel-ready” comment got little mention.
On the other side is the motorcycle-riding (or is it his stunt double?), rock ’n’ roller Huntsman. Over at the other dying news magazine Time, the former ambassador to China is officially trendy. Time’s May 23 issue was headlined “The Cool Kid: Jon Huntsman is a pro-civil union Mormon who spent nearly two years working for Obama.”
So let's see, he loves Obama and gays, that’s two pluses to most journalists. Even better for media types, the article showed it’s not too clear just how Mormon Huntsman is now. “I'm a very spiritual person,” and “proud of my Mormon roots.” Neither one of those sounds like he has a firm belief system.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer summed up the media love affair nicely, saying PBS's Mark Shields wants a “Republican nominee who is a squish and then he’ll vote against him anyway.” In another year where the media could control the campaign, a McCain-esque candidate might win. But conservative voters are angry and they are more likely to be hunting a RINO than voting for one.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.