The Conversation

Our media watchdogs take a cat nap

In response to Obama Is Every Bit as Bad as We Warned You:

The other thing I'd say these scandals have in common, Joel - including the NLRB scandal you added to Kurt Schlichter's rundown of conservative vindications - is the complete disinterest of the media, when ever one of them would have been a four-alarm fire of 24/7 saturation coverage under a Republican president.  (With the arguable exception of ObamaCare, because the media tends to reflexively believe even the most unlikely promises of Big Government programs, even when they come from a Republican.  Which, sadly, they sometimes do.)

Many have already noted that if the IRS scandal had occurred under George Bush, and those fabled "low level employees in Cincinnati" had been targeting groups with "progressive" or "social justice" keywords in their names, it would be the Twilight of the Gods - a media meltdown that simply eclipsed all other news items.  And it wouldn't be happening now, following an off-the cuff admission by some IRS official; it would have happened no later than March 2012, when complaints about suspicious audits and intrusive IRS questioning from Tea Party groups were boiling over.  And if the Bush Administration then got caught lying about "low level" employees going rogue in some obscure divisional office, followed by the immediate revelation that high-level agency officials were, in fact, aware of the politicized audits... good Lord, just imagine the coverage.  Network news anchors would be breaking out their "countdown to impeachment" panic-attack broadcasts; 60 Minutes would be talking about little else tonight.

Benghazi would have finished off a Republican incumbent running for re-election.  The media would never have let it go; they would have relentlessly hounded a Republican administration for the kind of information they're just getting around to asking about now.  In accordance with Saul Alinsky's theories, the media would have personalized the scandal, all the way back in September and October.  Slain diplomat Sean Smith's mother Pat would have become an overnight media titan, with Cindy Sheehan-style "absolute moral authority."  Dots would have been connected, and narratives woven.  You can bet your bottom dollar that no CNN hacks would be diving into the middle of a presidential debate to save an incumbent Republican's bacon and help him sell transparent lies.

Pigford's racial dimension makes it difficult to translate into a Republican scandal, but pick any nominal Republican constituency and imagine them getting paid off with a fraud-riddled government program that rapidly swelled to dozens of times its original size.  Imagine the media yawning its way through something analogous to Pigford's richly compensated "farmers" who never grew anything but crabgrass.

You might also toss in Operation Fast and Furious, which would have been H-bomb lethal for a Republican administration - and I doubt they could have contained the damage by throwing an incompetent Attorney General of Eric Holder's caliber to the wolves.  U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry would be a household name, his family joining Pat Smith in that "Mother Sheehan" pantheon.  America's news consumers probably would have gotten to know the families of a few Mexicans killed with Fast and Furious guns, too.

There's no way any of those scandals would have been safely buried until after the election, let alone all of them.  And if some crafty, incredibly media-savvy Republican president actually did get re-elected with so much baggage, the flood of skeletons currently pouring out of his closet would look like the finale of "Army of Darkness."  

I think Team Obama is in real trouble right now, as our media watchdogs wake up from a five-year cat nap, but if they were Republicans, the mainstream press would already be writing their obituaries.  It would take a generation for the GOP to get past the damage.  It would be years before they could run a presidential candidate who wasn't obliged to spend half his campaign distancing himself from the IRS scandal and Benghazi.


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