Prepare Yourself For Another Round Of Beltway Doublestandards In Covering Democrats
Those of you who stay on top of how the media treats Democrats differently than Republicans are well aware that the New York Times and the punditocracy decided to go scurrying around Hillary’s bedroom recently to make an issue of the Clintons’ sex life. I don’t remember any such story about Liddy Dole or even Condi Rice, but that is another matter. Hillary can defend herself, but we are also seeing evidence already that the Washington Post is creating the image of Hillary as the polarizing figure, without offering proof of that assertion or reporting that her favorability numbers are almost the same as John McCain’s.
Today, we get to see another story from the Times, commenting on the prospects of a Democratic House Speaker next year, and holding Nancy Pelosi up to the make-up mirror. Again, I don’t remember any such serious news stories about GOP women that merged comments about their make-up and clothes in the midst of the serious coverage. This of course is the same paper that just did the journalistic Lewinsky to Jebbie a few days ago, managing to write a puff piece without mentioning more of the personal skeletons in his closet.
We have also seen the recent spectacle of the Associated Press’s John Solomon, who tried unsuccessfully to smear Harry Reid into the Abramoff scandal back in February, now coming back to write up a factually challenged story yesterday about Reid accepting tickets to boxing matches while he had oversight on those issues. Following the “if at first you don’t succeed…” playbook from the GOP, Solomon must want us to draw some ethical equivalence between Reid going to boxing matches and what Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, Bob Ney, and Jack Abramoff have systematically done through K Street this last decade. He fails at his attempt, except to show from this point on that Solomon and his editors at the AP are nothing more than partisan hacks on the GOP’s payroll.
Balancing these media panderings to the right wing, we see that the New York Times, to its credit, did a “mea culpa” of sorts for repeating breathlessly everything the Swift Boat Liars said in 2004 by running a long piece on John Kerry’s albeit too-late campaign to set the record straight and clear his name of the Swifties’ smears from the election. Sure, it is a sign that Kerry is running again, and sure, he should have done this in August 2004 or even earlier when he was first tipped off in the spring of 2004 that this would happen, but at least the Times dedicated thirty-four paragraphs to this.
It’s hard to tell from this whether or not the Times and the Post are being sexist towards Democratic women in positions of power, or are simply giving us a sneak peak of the anti-Democrat and double standard-laden coverage from the last two elections that will return in the 2008 campaign.
What is certain however, is that the only way to deal with this is for Democratic candidates, the DNC, the DCCC and DSCC to immediately throw this back upon the media outlets that engage in such coverage, to run ongoing media war rooms to counter and rebut these smears and spin efforts for what they are, and hold the writers and their editors accountable. The center-left blogosphere can play a key role here to marshal whatever pressure and pushback that it can against the writers and editors who treat Democrats as circus animals while ignoring what the elephant just did in their living rooms.