387: McKay Coppins – A Mormon Reporter on the Romney Bus

November 30, 2012
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In this episode of Mormon Stories we interview journalist McKay Coppins.  McKay is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a journalist for BuzzFeed.  During the 2011-2012 U.S. presidential campaign, McKay was assigned the task of reporting on fellow-Mormon and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  This is his story.

McKay’s reflections on covering the Romney campaign can be found in this excellent article, “A Mormon Reporter on the Romney Bus.”

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5 Responses to 387: McKay Coppins – A Mormon Reporter on the Romney Bus

  1. Bill
    December 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Great interview. I enjoyed looking behind the curtain of a big time political campaign. Thanks for the insights!

  2. Greg Anderson
    December 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

    The picture makes him look like Tom Arnold.

  3. CK
    December 15, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Great perspective.

  4. maddy
    December 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Interesting.
    Even though McKay had a closer view of the Romney campaign it is interesting he was left wondering (as we all were) who the real Romney is. Romney as a candidate was a huge disappointment. I had hoped his campaign would “raise the bar” in terms of honest rhetoric and put the focus back on issues rather than character assault. I feel like Romney sold his soul in pursuit of the presidency, with one of the more dishonest campaigns we’ve seen. It kinda makes all Sunday School lessons about “standing up for truth/honesty” pure nonsense. It was disappointing to see the church-owned newspaper, Deseret News, run counter to the claims of political neutrality in their coverage of the campaign. The overall message seems to be “the means justifies the ends,” the same message we got from the Prop 8 campaign. Sad.

  5. Jason F
    January 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    What a great choice as a guest for this episode, very well done! What a unique experience that must have been for McKay, what a story he has to tell. If he writes a book detailing this experience, I would be interested in reading it.

    As McKay talked about the difficulty he witnessed Mitt Romney had explaining the church and his faith, and then when McKay related the story at the end about deciding he didn’t want to open himself up to questions about the church in his encounter with Ann Romney, I made a connection in my head with some other topics I’ve been thinking about. Maybe I’m off base with this connection, but here is my thought: has the church’s insistence (since at least correlation, if not before) on promoting its version of historical events and reasons (or lack thereof) for doctrinal claims made it more difficult for its members to engage with others in these types of discussions? Let me elaborate on what I mean by “these types of discussions”: I mean discussions where a member is not simply presenting the church to someone for the first time who knows nothing, or next to nothing, about what the church is about and how it came to be. McKay talks about how we sometimes “squirm when we are asked about the eccentricities of our faith and the darker chapters of our church’s history” (I had to quote verbatim, it was a brilliant summary of what I am getting at). I believe there could be a very direct link between the degree to which the church promotes only its explanations and the amount of difficulty and/or reluctance of church members to engage with individuals who have a different explanation.

    It is interesting that this would be the case, and in my experience I agree that the reaction by the average rank and file member is this squirming and/or talking around the issue. It is even more interesting given the institutional motivation to missionary work and spreading the church to our friends and neighbors. Maybe the effect (squirming) is not actually caused by what I am proposing (institutional conformity on the issues), but if there is a connection then I think that would motivate church leadership to address it in some way.

    I for one was one who used to talk around the difficult issues if they were brought up, because I was certain I could make it seem like the details didn’t actually matter without actually telling the other person that they must have their facts wrong. Knowing what I know now, which is still not all that much, I believe I would respond much more calmly and very matter-of-factly. Admit what is troublesome, admit what I don’t know or don’t understand, embrace the quirky things that are harmless or that make us who we are as a people and then see where the conversation goes from here.

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