May 27, 2012
by Ronald Radosh
Leave it to the New York Times to greet its vast audience of Sunday edition readers with a front-page hit job on Ann Romney. Everyone knows that Mitt Romney's wife, along with his flock of sons, is one of his greatest strengths. Ann Romney is beautiful, smart, a great campaigner, and an all-around asset to Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency.
So what does the old "paper of record," as it used to be called before everyone realized it is a left-liberal rag that regularly fails to separate outright propaganda from its news stories, do to tarnish Ann Romney?
It does the only thing possible. Run a story to prove what we already know: The Romneys are rich, they are part of the hated 1% (to use OWS lingo), and Mrs. Romney is someone who engages in a horse sport called "dressage." Yes, it is so rare that you undoubtedly never heard of it before.
The Times informs us in the second paragraph that the sport attracts "wealthy women" in particular; that the horses who are in it cost "seven figures"; that Ann Romney goes on horse buying trips to Europe; and that Ann and Mitt floated a loan of $250,00 to $500,000 to one Jan Ebeling, Ann's tutor in the sport and a horse scout.
You get the idea? The Romneys are filthy rich, are not like you and I, and participate in a rare sport that only the "elite" partake in. No down-to-earth ice hockey for them, not to speak of baseball or football.
On Facebook today, Univ. of Chicago professor Charles Lipson, from whom I first heard of the story before opening the Sunday paper, wrote the following quiz:
NEWS QUIZ!!! Really hard one!
FACT: Ann Romney rides horses in a sport called dressage. Some people in Manhattan think it is a sport for rich people.
QUIZ QUESTION: Does The New York Times Sunday edition think the story is:
A) Trivial and should not appear in the newspaper at all?
B) Mildly interesting and should appear in the Style section?
C) Important and should appear somewhere in the Sunday news sections?
D) Earth-shattering and should appear on the front page of the Sunday paper with the words "elite," "expensive," and "deep-pocketed" prominently featured in the lede paragraph about Ms. Romney?
This is a really hard one.
No peeking at today's New York Times.
Well, you already know the answer to Prof. Lipson's quiz. Reporter Trip Gabriel, if we can call this person a reporter, writes that this little-known sport is part of the Romney family's "way of life, which they have generally shielded from view." Get it? They don't want it out that Ann Romney engages in the elite sport of dressage.
Of course, she was doing this before the campaign, and one can argue that it is hardly relevant to the issues facing the country. Moreover, if the Romneys just wanted to enjoy their wealth and retire and live off their vast savings and profits, Mitt Romney did not have to subject himself to the tiring effort of running for president. Perhaps he might be doing this because he believes he can help the country return to its greatness, and use his expertise and know-how to get our economy in better shape. Such a common-sense conclusion, of course, is something that hardly occurs to whatever editor commissioned this bit of old-fashioned yellow journalism.
But no, the paper and reporter Gabriel pause to remind us again of what we already knew but has to be thrown in the readers' faces:
Protective of their privacy, they may also have been wary of the kind of fallout that came after Mr. Romney's mention of the "couple of Cadillacs" his wife owned and the disclosure of plans for a car elevator in the family's $9 million beach house in California, which prompted criticism that Mr. Romney was out of touch with average Americans.
But aren't their more accessible sports that Ann Romney could have taken up? And why, one might wonder at this point, did she find out about dressage, given that it is so rare? The answer comes only in the eighth paragraph, in which readers learn that "Mrs. Romney took up dressage at age 50 as a therapy for multiple sclerosis, but it soon became her passion. Riding, she has said, 'sings to my soul.'"
So she obviously learned about the sport in the first place because it was recommended as being a good therapy for dealing with MS. But the article does not give Ann Romney credit for learning this tough and demanding sport at age 50, and becoming an expert and champion at it. Instead, the reader is supposed to think how horrible it is that Mrs. Romney chose a sport that only the rich can participate in. And even worse, Mitt Romney learned to ride trails on a horse (horrors) and himself showed acquaintances "expensive, esoteric breeds, mentioning his wife's Austrian Warmbloods and his own Missouri Fox Trotter —'like a quarter horse, but just a much better gait.'" And, we also learn, this was told to Sean Hannity in a tape of an interview, but left out of the actual broadcast. Get it? Sean Hannity participated in the cover-up of Ann Romney's sport so that his viewers would not learn about it. Perhaps Hannity had better judgement, realizing that it was not of major importance to the issues in the campaign that he sought to interview Romney about.
There are more horrors. We learn that Ann Romney uses her own money to sponsor her mentor, Jan Ebeling, in his own competition in the sport and helps plan his competition in the sport in the European season.
This is the kind of investigative news story the editors of the New York Times consider important. You won't find a front-page investigation of the Obama administration's crony capitalism and its using federal dollars to fund failing green-energy firms like Solyndra, or an investigative report about Eric Holder's DOJ and its failure to investigate the DEA's selling of arms to the drug syndicates, or scores of other questions one may have about the incumbent president's policies and their deleterious effects.
Nor will you find any stories providing us the details of Michelle Obama's notorious vacation in Spain at the taxpayers' expense. And there are no stories about Obama's expensive vacations in mansions in Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard, where he is at home with all the other elitists of Democratic Party persuasion, such as the singer Carly Simon and others in the entertainment industry that lavish his campaign with big money. Nor does the paper remind readers that our president went to the most elite and wealthiest private high school in Hawaii, and that his children now, like Chelsea Clinton before, attend the Sidwell Friends School, an institution known for its liberal politics as well as its high tuition. No public schools in D.C. for the Obama girls. Just think, they may have suffered the fate of Jimmy Carter's daughter, who was forced to attend a regular public school because Carter obviously thought it looked bad for the president to have his own child treated differently than the rest of us.
A friend of mine noted that FDR, a wealthy man himself, dubbed the presidential retreat available to the commander-in-chief "Shangri-la," which it was called until Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to what it is today, Camp David. Don't expect Barack Obama to take his vacation there. It just can't compare to the elite homes he can inhabit in the Vineyard. And speaking of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was one of the wealthiest leaders to inhabit the White House. Millions loved him nevertheless, and did not begrudge him his wealth because they saw him enacting policies they believed helped them and the country. FDR was supported by the political left wing, and not one of his leftist supporters would ever have dared to attack him for his wealth, just as long as he gave speeches pledging to "throw the money-changers out of the temple," even though — as one historian quipped — he brought them back in a few days later.
We live in different times, and we know that the editors of the New York Times love Barack Obama and detest Mitt Romney. That is all we really have to know to explain that front-page story about Ann Romney. Do the editors really think even their own readers are that dumb to fall for it?
Ronald Radosh is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, and the author of many books, including "The Rosenberg File;" "Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party, 1964-1996," and most recently, "Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left."
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