Running Interference or Mediacrisy?
By VA Guest Editor EKG
John Roberts of CNN opened the South Carolina Republican Debate on January 19, 2012, by asking former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, about an upcoming ABC interview with Mr. Gingrich's ex-wife regarding her and Mr. Gingrich's divorce13 years ago. In his response, Mr. Gingrich stated he was fed up with the "majority" media clearing the way for the reelection of President Obama.
Is Mr. Gingrich's criticism valid?
The media attack on Mr. Gingrich bears an eerie resemblance to 2004 when Barack Obama was running for the first (and only time) for the U. S. Senate, and The Chicago Tribune forced open the Republican nominee's sealed divorce records. This resulted in a sex scandal causing Mr. Obama's opponent to withdraw. At the late date, the Republicans fielded Alan Keyes who was not a resident of Illinois and was easily defeated.
In 2008, when then-candidate Obama was running against former First Lady and Senator, Hillary Clinton, for the Democratic nomination, CBS along with other media outlets quickly exposed as fraudulent Senator Clinton's claim to have come under sniper fire in Bosnia. This same media, however, accepted Senator Obama's allegation that he had not heard 20 years worth of his pastor's anti-American sermons. Concurrently, investigations by The New York Times, CNN, and other news organizations concluded Mr. Obama did not have a close relationship with former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers even though they served together on two nonprofit boards and Mr. Ayers and his wife (former terrorist) Bernadine Dohrn hosted a gathering at their home where Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen successor in the Illinois State Senate. Nor was the media curious about Senator Obama's purchase of a home with the help of Tony Rezko, now a convicted felon.
During the 2000 election, the media attempted to disparage George Bush's intelligence by focusing on his SAT's and college transcripts. But Mr. Obama, whom they promote as brilliant, has never released his SAT scores, his college or law school transcripts, and the media show no inclination to pursue the subject.
In 2008, The New York Times ran a front page story that alleged an affair between Mr. Obama's opponent, John McCain, and a lobbyist. The accusation turned out to be false. This same newspaper also ran a story critical of Senator McCain's wife.
Not long after Representative Michele Bachmann announced her campaign for the presidency, Fox News's Chris Wallace asked her on camera, "are you a flake". Representative Bachmann handled the sexist statement with grace and viewers launched a firestorm of criticism at Mr. Wallace (liberal commentator Mike Wallace's son) forcing him to apologize. But can anyone imagine Mr. Wallace asking the same question of Secretary Hillary Clinton or First Lady Michelle Obama? Mr. Wallace likewise drew fire from Mr. Gingrich in the first Republican debate by asking what Mr. Gingrich termed a "gotcha" question.
When Governor Rick Perry of Texas soared to the lead in the GOP race, Politico broke a story that Mr. Perry had a hunting lodge at the entrance of which was a rock with a racially disparaging name painted on it. Apparently it did not matter that the parcel on the Brazos River had been called by that name well before Perry's father began hunting there. Nor was it important that the Perrys had painted over the sign.Contrast that to the disinterest shown by Politico and others when Michelle Obama claimed she had never been proud of America and/or that America is a "mean" country.
Once Representative Bachmann and Governor Perry dropped in the polls, former Governor Mitt Romney started being pilloried (and, stupidly, by his opponents) for practicing capitalism in America and for not releasing tax returns that suggest he not only is successful but his income comes from capital gains which is taxed at only 15%. But in 2004 when then-Democratic candidate, John Kerry's wife paid only 12.3% of her gross income and 27.4% of her AGI only the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal saw fit to report it. (Mrs. Kerry files separately from the senator which in itself could have been a story).
During the week before the South Carolina debate, in addition to assailing Mr. Romney's practice of blatant capitalism, ABC reported verbatim a political attack flyer that quoted a Pittsburgh Press article (from 1990) claiming Mr. Santorum's wife had had an affair with an abortion doctor more than two decades ago. (Mr. and Mrs. Santorum have been married for 21 years). But only four years ago, the media justified their not reporting John Edwards's then-current affair with a staffer by claiming reluctance to report unsavory subjects as news.
When businessman Herman Cain led the Republican field, the media extensively covered accusations of three women who claimed sexual harassment by Mr. Cain, one that supposedly happened over 20 years ago, the media made no mention that the attorney filing one of the harassment suits was the same attorney who used a similar tactic to derail Meg Whitman's campaign for governor of California in 2010. Further in 1994 when Paula Jones sued Democratic president, Bill Clinton, for sexual harassment in 1991 (only three years before), the media questioned why Ms. Jones had not come forward sooner and quickly linked her to a Conservative legal group. When Kathleen Willey accused President Clinton of sexual harassment in the White House during his presidency, the media helpfully printed a note from Mrs. Willey written after the incident suggesting by inference that Ms. Willey continued to seek the president's assistance finding a job. (Mrs. Willey's husband had committed suicide and she needed additional income).
One of Mr. Cain's accusors claimed she and Mr. Cain conducted a 13 year affair (one that presumably went on while Mr. Cain was being treated for Stage IV colon cancer), but when Gennifer Flowers claimed (with supporting tapes) that she and Mr. Clinton were lovers, CBS's Sixty Minutes gave Mr.and Mrs. Clinton an opportunity to refute Ms. Flowers.
Once Mr. Cain no longer posed a problem for President Obama's reelection, he and the harassment suits no longer were news. Why not? If these accusations had credence and were newsworthy when Mr. Cain was a candidate, why should we not be informed of what happened? Have the suits been dropped? Or did Mr. Cain pay off the women? Why did this "news" story simply go away?
Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich. Do these examples show a double standard or are they, as Mr. Gingrich claims, a clearing of the field for President Obama. Are the media running interference for the President?
RiteOn Guest Editor EKG publishes frequently in the RiteOn.org blog but also writes for many other publications.