Buzzfeed Reporter Reveals Anti-Mormon Bigotry of Press Corps

McKay Coppins of Buzzfeed was one of the reporters in the Romney press pool during his late campaign for president. He is also a Mormon. In a long piece posted on November 14, Coppins reveals the stark anti-Mormon bigotry that his fellow members of the media openly displayed as they followed team Romney around the country.

Coppins’ report offers several interesting bits of information and even makes Mitt out to be the John Kennedy of Mormonism in that, like Kennedy, Mitt’s candidacy brought his religion out from under the shadows of suspicion and into the mainstream.

But the piece begins revealing the stark and totally casual anti-Mormon bigotry of his fellow members of the Old Media establishment.

In his first several paragraphs Coppins reveals that the other reporters following Romney constantly sniggered about his “Mormon underwear” and often made jokes about his religion when in the privacy of the press plane or on their many bus trips.

The jokes from his fellows made Coppins uncomfortable. At one point he noted he “slid down in his seat” and pretended to look at his phone to avoid eye contact with the guffawing media bigots surrounding him.

The underwear question seemed to fascinate Coppins’ Old Media fellows. He reports that one Newsweek correspondent openly wondered if Romney would, “actually wear that Mormon underwear in the White House?”

Coppins also pointed out how odd it felt for him, a life-long Mormon intimately familiar with anti-Mormon sentiment, now being tasked with trying to ask questions about Romney’s faith during the campaign.

But for most of the campaign the Romney machine was monolithic on avoiding all talk about Romney’s religion. It was not an issue that the candidate wanted to talk about, likely, Coppins says, because of how viciously he was treated over his religion in several of his past campaigns. This time, Mitt decided, religion was off the table.

This struck Coppins as a bit unnecessary. Maybe even a bad move.

But as a journalist, I was now the one asking those uncomfortable questions. And as much as I wanted to believe Romney’s aides when they insisted religion should have “no part in this election,” I knew that couldn’t be true. My entire worldview had been colored by my faith; was I really supposed to believe the same wasn’t true of Romney?

Coppins also says that his media colleagues seemed unable to understand Romney’s faith even when he was openly observing its tenets.

Reporters in his traveling press corps often wondered why, even as the general election kicked into full gear, Romney insisted on dropping off the campaign trail on Sundays, opting to spend the day with family in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire or La Jolla, California. Some speculated that it was a symptom of his distaste for campaigning, but one aide told me his motives were mostly religious. Even when he was obligated to travel, he made efforts to find a Mormon Sacrament meeting nearby. He also abided by the other Sabbath-related bylaws, abstaining from dining out and and shopping on Sundays.

“He actually follows all those rules,” the aide told me. “It’s hard to explain to [press] that, no, he’s not going to eat out on Sunday, or anything else.”

Obviously, religious observance is so foreign to members of the media that they simply can’t understand why anyone would want to go to church on Sundays.

Another interesting tidbit of info that Coppins reveals is that the Romney campaign had a whole sheaf of opposition research on the history that Obama’s extended family had with polygamy, ready to be used if Obama or one of his surrogates launched into an attack on Mormon multiple marriages.

One RNC official told me they were prepared to release opposition research dealing with polygamy in Obama’s family tree — including passages from a little-noticed memoir by the president’s half-sister Auma — if the left tried to make hay of historical Mormon polygamy. But Chicago held its fire, and the issue never surfaced.

It was an assault that never materialized.

As Election Day neared, the campaign began to gradually include Romney’s faith into the campaign, a move that culminated in the Mormons that came to sing Mitt’s praise on stage during the Republican National Convention. And In fact, as the campaign warmed up and rolled onward, despite all the worries that Mitt’s Mormonism would be a major stumbling block for the media and voters alike, the Mormon issue never really came to pass.

On the right, the long-feared Evangelical backlash to Romney’s faith never materialized, and there were signs that the religious right was finally accepting conservative Mormons into the fold. In one particularly potent gesture, Billy Graham removed Mormonism from a list of “cults” on his website. That may seem like a low bar to clear, but on election day, Romney ended up winning a larger portion of white evangelicals than John McCain did in 2008.

Coppins ended his piece on the same note with which he began — the Old Media’s anti-Mormon bigotry — by relating that one of his colleagues asked him a question about his “Mormon underwear” as the campaign came to an end.

They are just fascinated by people’s underwear.

Coppins’ piece is both an interesting perspective and an informative piece, well worth the read.

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  • Hank_M

    Not surprising.

    The media is extremely liberal. And that is where modern bigotry lives.

  • $1000 says that if Harry Reid were to run for president, the media’s bigotry and bias against Mormons would suddenly vanish in a puff of hypocrisy and immediately be replaced with high praise and positive affirmations of the religion.

    • Carl

      I didn’t see where Democrats or the media made an issue out of Mitt’s Mormonism.

      Feel free to show where they did Jay.

      And of course Christian extremists DID make an issue of Mitt’s “cult religion”….

      [Prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert] Jeffress told host Janet Mefferd that he has “made peace” with voting for a Mormon, despite it being very clear that Mormonism “is a cult, it is a false religion” whose members “worship a multiplicity of Gods” and “deny the Bible.” He said he prefers the Mormon candidate to President Obama “who absolutely repudiates what Jesus Christ said about some key issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage.

      I’m sure there are more examples of conservatives attacking Mitt’s religion, but I don’t remember the Dems or the MSM doing so.

      • Brian Casaday

        “I didn’t see where Democrats or the media made an issue out of Mitt’s Mormonism.”
        The media made a HUGE issue of it. CNN had a new “exclusive” story on Mormonism virtually every week for the past six months. The same with the WaPo. ABC, CBS and other media jumped in as well. Most stories were generally tame, though they did try to sensationalize the religion and twisted a few facts to fit their narrative.

        And then there was MSNBC… but I consider them even less legitimate than Fox.

        • The fact remains… Mitt Lost. GOD’ did not want a ‘Homophobic Moron’ running the Free World. Take your dancing ‘white horse’ back to the circus. LOL

      • bytebear

        Wow, you obviously don’t read the Huffington Post, Washington Post or NY Times. Or watch CNN or MSNBC or Real Time with Bill Mahar.

  • Wayne Dequer

    To my reading Mr. Coppins’ article shows the Romney media pool and others moving from ignorant bias to informed familiarity and sometimes respect and true understanding. Growth has occurred in general attitudes and dialogue. Of course some at the perfectionist extremes have not moved at all.

    • ackwired

      “ignorant bias to informed familiarity and sometimes respect and true understanding”

      This is a very nice encapsulation of the process. Bias is usually centered in ignorance and fear. If people do not understand why members of a religion are asked to wear “special underwear”, they tend to fear that religion’s underlying beliefs. If they are allowed to understand it, the fear dissipates. Mormonism has more secrets than most religions. That gave Romney additional challenges.

      • bytebear

        That’s why they send out all those missionaries out, and publish their entire history and doctrinal treatise online. Because they don’t want anyone to know.

        Seriously, go to and search “garment” and you will find probably 100 or so articles, books and various scriptural interpretations on the topic.

        I do agree that the media presented Mormonism as secretive, but truthfully, they didn’t want to believe the Mormon answers, so they pretended Mormons hid the “real truth.”

        • ackwired

          Thank you. Could I visit a service in a Temple?

          • Brian Casaday

            You can visit any Sunday service at any of the thousands of churches in the U.S. Visitors are certainly welcome. You can attend a temple service, but you’d have to be a member first.

          • robertetozier

            Not just a member, Brian, but a “worthy” member. Unfortunately, these rules prevent even the most dedicated Christian parents, who are worthy because of Christ’s grace, from attending a son or daughter’s wedding. Believe me, it hurts.

          • bytebear

            Services aren’t held in temples. You can attend a service any Sunday at any of the thousands of meeting houses. They are open and welcome to anyone.

            If you want to participate in the Temple ceremony, you are welcome to as well, but you first must be baptized and remain an active member for about a year.

  • jim_m

    Leftists are bigots. What next? Water is wet?

  • GarandFan

    Yep, liberals just love that “diversity”.

  • Brucehenry

    I heard somewhere that, nationally, Romney got a LOWER percentage of the Mormon vote than McCain did in 2008. Anyone know if this is true?

    • bytebear

      That’s what they’re saying. It’s really not surprising. Mormons were so cautious about appearing politically neutral with Romney, there was very little individual outreach as there had been with past candidate.

    • jim_m

      You mean that people can’t be segregated into groups based on race, ethnicity and religion? How can we divide the electorate?

      Perhaps Bruce forgets that Harry Reid is a mormon as well so it seems that they have something called diversity. The left is always talking about diversity but they really aren’t interested in fostering it or making it happen. They’d much more rather segregate us into groups that they can then control.

      • Brucehenry

        I was just asking the question, Jim. And thanks to Carl for the HotAir link — first article I’ve ever read from there that I found interesting or informative.

      • Brucehenry

        I was just asking the question, Jim. And thanks to Carl for the HotAir link — first article I’ve ever read from there that I found interesting or informative.

        • jim_m

          Well they frequently link to the NYT so I can understand your complaint.

        • Carl


    • Carl
    • 914

      Who cares? The election is history. Now it’s survival mode in this continuing depression.

  • SteveCrickmore075

    The answer to the important question, based on photos of his togs in at least one debate, yes, Mitt would have worn his ‘magic underwear’ in the White House! No wonder, he always was perspiring noticeably with the need of a hankerchief.

    • bytebear

      Except your little article (which by the way proves the point of this article) is a hack job. ”Mormon underwear” is short sleeved, so you are seeing things which aren’t there. Kind of the mantra of today’s modern journalism.

      • SteveCrickmore075,674567,674713 is a discussion of this. I agree it is not important, particularly now that he has lost. Mormonism has such strange beliefs like the guiding angel Moroni, the ascendant gold plates, it is a wonder that Romney was a level-headed as he was, but from time to time I did get the feeling he was living in a alternate universe!

        • bytebear

          Mormon beliefs are unfamiliar but hardly and stranger than any other religious or even fraternal organization. How many presidents have been Masons, how many have been in Skull and Bones. Mormonism is hardly the spectre of oddness or secret society.

      • Carl

        Bzzzt! Bytebear is saying things that aren’t true. Kind of the mantra of today’s modern conservative hacks.

        Yes, MIttens would have worn his magic underwear in the White House.

        When Mormons go through the Endowment ceremony in the Mormon temples, they are given a set of “underwear” known as “garments”. These garments must be worn by Mormons for life and no other underwear can be worn. Mormon women must wear their bras over their garments and some mormons even believe that one must wear the garments during sexual intercourse so the child will be born “under the covenant”.

        And apparently the underwear really does have magical powers.

        Mormons believe that the holy garment will protect them from fire, bullets, knives and other assaults if the person wearing the garments have kept all of their “temple covenants”. During the washing and anointing ceremony the Mormon is told the garment “represents the garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the garden of Eden.” The person is told that the garment “will be a shield and a protection to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work here on earth.”In general, Mormons view the garment as a symbolic and spiritual shield against the powers of Satan. Some LDS believe that the garment provides them with “supernatural powers” of physical protection. Bill Marriott, prominent Mormon and owner of Marriott Hotels International stated in an interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes that he believed his garments protected him from being burned during a boating accident.


        Fundamentalist Mormons still wear the old style undergarments, which are long-sleeved.

        So, for those who love the truth, here are the
        unvarnished facts about how and why the FLDS are in reality more
        “Mormon” than LDS.

        1. The FLDS haven’t ever changed their Sacred Underwear (aka “garments”). That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s true. As originally “revealed” to the “Prophet Joseph” – the sacred undies were one-piece long-johns that extended to the wrists, and over the ankles. That is why the FLDS “faithful” wear long-sleeve shirts even on the hottest days, and why the “sisters” wear pioneer-style long skirts and long sleeved blouses.”Mainstream” LDS, on the other hand, have seen NUMEROUS changes to their underwear. They now have quite modern-looking two piece undies in a number of comfy materials.

        I don’t know if Mitt is a Fundamentalist LDS or just LDS.

        • jim_m

          Regardless, the whole underwear thing is silly. Then again,what belief system doesn’t have something silly?

          • Brucehenry


        • I don’t know if Mitt is a Fundamentalist LDS or just LDS.

          Why don’t you do some reading, apply a little critical thinking to what you learn, and make an educated guess?

          Oh. Right.

        • bytebear

          That’s not what I was saying at all. What I was saying is the obsession to peek down one’s shirt cuff to catch a glimpse of one’s underwear is silly and a little disturbing.

    • bytebear

      Except your little article (which by the way proves the point of this article) is a hack job. ”Mormon underwear” is short sleeved, so you are seeing things which aren’t there. Kind of the mantra of today’s modern journalism.

  • So,a Mormon reporter is complaining about how non-Mormon reporters responded to Romney’s Mormonism. Was it a case of bigotry or a case of being naive on the part of the non-Mormon reporters?

    • jim_m

      probably both

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  • dougtheavenger

    So, after the Huffington Post published a dozen anti-Mormon “reports” and MSNBC had a couple purely religious episodes, you are going to claim anti-Mormonism had nothing to do with Obama’s reelection. 8 million non-Hispanic whites who voted for McCain chose not to vote for Romney. They correspond closely to the 10% of conservatives who said they would not vote for a qualified Mormon for president.

    source (Case of the Missing White Voters)

  • robertetozier

    For sensible Christian perspectives on contemporary Mormon religion, see dozens of brief papers at