Marco Rubio lashes out at "elitist" New York Times: Why this is just the fight he wants

After the New York Times reports on his personal finances, Marco Rubio can now play the victim of "liberal media"

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published June 10, 2015 2:33PM (EDT)
  (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Marco Rubio is trotting out a tried and tested GOP stance this week -- "librul" media victim. After a pair of New York Times reports on Rubio's personal finances and his family's past traffic violations portrayed the junior Florida senator in a less than flattering light, his campaign has seized upon the opportunity to whine about media scrutiny and cast Rubio as a victim of the "elitist" media. A coveted status for any GOP 2016 hopeful.

After the first Times story ran on Friday detailing Rubio and his wife's traffic tickets, conservatives on Twitter (the Twitchy brigade) ridiculed The Times, mocking the report using the hashtag #RubioCrimeSpree:

We've seen this defensive crouch before. It's one of conservative's favorite shticks: The big, bad, liberal media is out to get us. And it apparently works? Now Rubio's team is riding this train full tilt. Sensing the rare opportunity in which Rubio was not the center of conservative rage on Twitter, his campaign pounced. Rubio's team sent multiple email blasts to supporters decrying the "elitist" New York Times' "attack" on the candidate.  His campaign claims the backlash from the stories raised $100,000 in the past five days.

To be clear, The Times' second report reads like an aggregation of a lot of already reported facts in the public record, but it does come with a tinge of judgment. Yes, Rubio, like a lot of Americans not born into wealth, had some money management issues, as The Times highlights, but Rubio's campaign pushes the every man notion hardcore, insisting that, "what The Times misses is that getting rich is not what has driven Senator Rubio’s financial decisions." Got that New York Times? Next time be sure to include Rubio's motivations. Granted, according to Rubio's own campaign that's clearly his own family's well being, not yours.

Rubio's focus on The Times is a deliberate strategy meant to engender more than campaign cash -- it 's a pass back into the club. The former Tea Party darling was all but booted out after he led the failed charge for bipartisan immigration reform in the Senate. Although he eventually drew back from his initial proposals and has since flipped and flopped all over the map on the issue, many grassroots anti-immigration conservatives are leery of a Rubio run. This conservative rejoinder of attacks on the liberal, elite media is a welcome breather for Rubio and sign that his conservative redemption may be near.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Elections Gop 2016 Marco Rubio Republican Party The New York Times The Right