A recent article in Politico has stirred up a little firestorm in Washington, with the mainstream media and liberal blogs taking umbrage at a rare example of one corner of the MSM calling out the other for liberal bias.
The article, by Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei and its top reporter, Mike Allen, raises a possibility that is shocking within the Beltway but which would be unremarkable to many conservatives outside of it: that the charge of liberal bias in the press “often rings true” and that it is already emerging in stories about Romney’s past.
I can tell you, VandeHei and Allen – both of whom I know personally – have done a brave bit of work here and made themselves no new friends within the Washington journalism establishment.
Here’s section from the piece:
On the front page of its Sunday edition, the New York Times gave a big spread to Ann Romney spending lots of time and tons of money on an exotic genre of horse-riding. The clear implication: The Romneys are silly rich, move in rarefied and exotic circles, and are perhaps a tad shady.
Only days earlier, news surfaced that author David Maraniss had unearthed new details about Barack Obama’s prolific, college-age dope-smoking for his new book, “Barack Obama: The Story” — and the Times made it a brief on A15.
No wonder Republicans are livid with the early coverage of the 2012 general election campaign. To them, reporters are scaring up stories to undermine the introduction of Mitt Romney to the general election audience – and once again downplaying ones that could hurt the president . . .
Republicans cry “bias” so often it feels like a campaign theme. It is, largely because it fires up conservatives and diminishes the punch of legitimate investigative or narrative journalism. But it also is because it often rings true, even to people who don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.
And the imbalance can do slow, low-grade but unmistakable damage to Romney: Swing voters are just getting to know him. And coverage suggesting he is mean or extravagant can soak in, even though voters who took the time to weigh the details might dismiss the storyline.
And the horse-riding story came a few weeks after a second story that made Republicans see red – another front-pager, this time in the Washington Post, that hit Mitt Romney for bullying a kid who might have been gay, in high school nearly a half-century ago. The clear implication to readers: Romney was a mean, insensitive jerk . . . the 5,500-word account was invested with far more significance than it merited, and is more voyeuristic than relevant to assessing Romney’s readiness for office . . .
Maraniss works for the Post and his pot-smoking scoop, which included details of Obama’s college-era dope-smoking club and waste-no-weed rules for inhaling it, never made the front of his own paper.
I hope this is a sign that the media will be more attentive to its biases, but I doubt it.
Politico’s own in-house media reporter chronicled the outrage: Talking Points Memo called the article “an astonishingly bad piece of reporting/analysis.” The Washington Post’s media blogger charges “hypocrisy.” GQ writes: “It’s a thinly disguised, fundamentally craven argument for Politico’s superiority in the world of political coverage. Let’s call this article for what it was. It wasn’t journalism. It was business.”
Really, there’s nothing like a little charge of liberal bias – so obvious to conservatives – to rankle the press. That and reducing the number of seats they are allowed at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will really get the Washington media’s attention.
FYI, since I’m writing about the publication, I should note: I write regular opinion pieces for Politico, for which I am paid.