One of the sillier myths to have widespread acceptance in our culture is that the mainstream media, especially The New York Times, has a liberal bias. Anyone who actually reads the Times knows better. After all, these are the folks who kept the worthless Whitewater story alive during the Clinton administration, who published every phony anti-Gore story the Republicans fed them in the 2000 campaign, and who shamelessly parroted the Bush Administration’s completely fallacious talking points in the run-up to the Iraq War.
Completely unchastened by this recent history, the Times has now taken to covering the 2008 Presidential campaign. Let us see how their liberal bias manifests itself.
Yesterday’s edition contained a fawning story, sadly only available by subscrption today, about Rudy Giuliani’s marvelous record on race relations as New York’s mayor. The highlight was when they described as “eloquent” Giuliani’s condemnation of the police officers who raped Abner Louima with a plunger. Well, I’m certainly pleased that he is on the right side of the controversial plunger rape issue. The fact remains, however, that the story ran because it played into the standard story line on Giuliani. Specifically, that he’s a tough, square-jawed problem-solver not afraid to stand up to whomever is standing in his way.
Contrast that with their coverage of the Democratic candidates. John Edwards has been spending much of his time discussing poverty lately. In covering the story the Times, along with most other major media outlets, either tried to make him out to be a hypocrite (for living in great opulence while urging that more be done about the problem of poverty), or as shady in some vague way (in suggesting that his anti-poverty foundation was not handling its money properly).
You see this over and over again. In covering the Democratic candidates the press writes dishonest hit pieces. In covering the Republicans it is all fawning obsequity. That is how you get ridiculous, made-up stories about Al Gore (say, did you hear the one about him eating endangered Chilean Sea Bass at his daughter’s wedding? Turns out it was all made up. Surprise!) You can file it right alongside the inventing the internet story, the Love Canal story, the Earth tones story and all the other phony baloney nonsense the press used to help Bush get elected in 2000). That is how one of the most prominent and respected (God knows why) Washington journalists, Tim Russert, can blatantly distort basic facts about Hillary Clinton and not be called on it. And on and on it goes.
This is all the more frustrating when you consider the fact that the Republicans have been wrong on key issue after key issue during the Bush Administration. No one has done more than they do make it impossible to trust the government about anything. The war in Iraq comes especially to mind. The adminsitration lied about the intelligence, did everything in their considerable power to smear anyone who dissented from their line, showed no comprehension of the realities on the ground in Iraq, filled key positions in the reconstruction effort with people whose sole qualification was a fanatical loyalty to the Republican Party, and continues to preside over a steady, daily trickle of American deaths while showing no inclination to change course in the slightest degree. And that’s just on Iraq! But rather than hammer them for these facts, the same media lickspittles who report for days on Edwards’ expensive haircuts do little more than stage polite interviews with administration flaks and hold roundtable discussions with conservative writers (and a handful of ineffective liberal quislings) to explain how the Democrats are messing everything up.
I grow vexed.