Apparently the media's desire to serve The State (at least for as long as Barack Obama heads The State) is so strong that the State now trumps The Scoop. Sunday, both ABC News and CBS News had slow-and-over-the-plate opportunities that would make any objective journalist salivate. Instead, though, both organizations chose to bend over backwards to ensure no political harm was done to the Democratic party, and most especially, to the Obama White House.
On Thursday we learned that New Jersey Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez, is under investigation by the F.B.I. for allegedly paying to have sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
Imagine you're the first journalist to get a chance to interview Menendez after news of this investigation broke. Who wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to make major news with just one question covering the scandal, even if you know the answer will be a vehement denial?
Well, that would be ABC News's Martha Raddatz, who had this golden opportunity handed to her Sunday morning but chose instead to completely ignore the scandal.
Keep in mind that this is the same ABC and "This Week" that took the stupidity of what some no-name Republican said in Missouri to bludgeon the entire Republican Party, especially its former standard-bearer, Mitt Romney. But an F.B.I. investigation into sex with underage prostitutes? That's not news -- you know, especially when that news could damage Democrats and their ambitious left-wing agenda.
Early last week, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went before both chambers of congress to testify about the four Americans murdered by terrorists in Libya. Democrats swooned as feckless, unprepared Republicans had their heads handed to them by Madam Secretary. When it was all over and Hillary stood in triumph on a stack of bloodied, bruised and bewildered Republicans, the unanswered questions remained legion and Hillary literally asked "What difference does it make" if the White House lied to the American people for two weeks.
Let's play the game again: Imagine you’re the first journalist to get a crack at Hillary after this appearance. What journalist wouldn't be salivating at the opportunity to have the last word on Libya? Any journalist paying attention would now know all the Administration talking points and all the rhetorical tricks. Who wouldn’t want to swoop in and finally be the journalist to pin the Administration down?
Well, that would CBS News's Steve Kroft, Obama's go-to guy, who had all kinds of time with both Hillary and Obama Sunday night. But instead of being a journalist, Kroft chose to be Oprah. This wasn't an interview, it was a thirty-minute "Hillary 2016" commercial.
How did this happen?
Obviously Raddatz and Kroft are biased, but once upon a time no journalist would go this far to flak for any Democrat. Especially when we're not in an election year and there's still plenty of time for the Democrat to rehabilitate his or her reputation. But we now find ourselves in unprecedented waters when it comes to media sycophancy.
Part of the reason this is happening is peer pressure. In our currently media environment -- where the media sees Obama as a WMD against the GOP and traditional American culture, the message has been sent that nothing should be done that might damage the president politically. In short, The Narrative must be: Obama does everything right, those who oppose him do everything wrong.
The other reason Raddatz and Kroft still have jobs today is because you can now completely abdicate your responsibilities as a journalist without fearing any kind of pushback from your colleagues or media watchdogs (The Incredibly Useless Howard Kurtz chose to target Sarah Palin instead -- UPDATED: Wemple takes a whack at Kroft). As we've seen many times, it's tough questioning of Democrats that invites criticism within the media. Sycophancy, however, is (as we're seeing today) either applauded or ignored.
History is rife with examples of what can happen when those in power know the media will have their back no matter what.
Paper cut by paper cut, the media is putting our democracy in increasing danger.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC