In Defense of Steve Doocy

A tip of the hat to Sahil Kapur, who noticed that Steve Doocy make up a few words in order to goad Mitt Romney into giving him a good answer. The president said this on April 18.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance — just like these folks up here are looking for a chance.

Doocy interviewed Romney on April 19, and quoted Obama this way.

He said, ‘unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.’

Three of those words were made up as Doocy successfully got Romney to engage in the spat. Luckily, the only non-Fox reports that botched the quote came from Philip Rucker (who’s logged approximately 1.2 million campaign trail miles with Romney) and the New York Post op-ed page. They’ve been corrected, in a timely fashion, after The Colbert Report made fun of them.

But here’s where the defense of Doocy begins. The extra sauce he put on the quote didn’t really change how the story was covered.

Start on April 18. ABC News picked “silver spoon” as the lead from the Obama speech. The Hill’s Amie Parnes went with the same story: “Obama hits Romney with silver spoon.” Same thing from the L.A. Times: “As his campaign hammers former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over his lack of financial disclosure and portrays him as out of touch with the worries of lower- and middle-class Americans, Obama himself told the crowd that ‘I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.’”

At the time, my colleague John Dickerson made a strong case for spoon-skepticism. “The “silver spoon” construction is a standard Obama cliché,” he wrote. “He’s used it herehereherehere and here, long before Romney was the nominee.” Indeed! But since Romney’s emerged as the nominee, Democrats have engaged in all matter of ad hominem hits on Romney’s distance and outsized wealth. It’s one of the things they want voters to know about him. Doocy may be a schmuck, and he certainly flashed his bright red BIAS card with the question, but the story was going to chug along anyway.