Here are the rules of the mainstream media: The past of a Democratic presidential candidate is mostly off-limits. Meanwhile, for a Republican, it’s open season—always.
For example, was Bill Clinton a horn-dog back in Arkansas? Or worse? By now we all know the answer, but back when it mattered most, prior to the 1992 presidential election, you’d have never have known it from the MSM.
Indeed, even when Bill Clinton was president, only a few reporters were interested in his past life. One was David Brock, then a conservative writing for The American Spectator. In response to his reporting on “Troopergate,” the liberal attack machine put Brock through such hell that he flipped—today, Brock is one of the leading Bill-and-Hill sycophants in the country; indeed, he has created a whole new life for himself as a well-funded liberal. To be sure, not every conservative proved to have as weak a constitution as Brock, but all of them were badly outnumbered in the media. And so the MSM not only powered Clinton to a second term, it also propelled Hillary into her career as a Senator from New York. Hillary’s media rush was unstoppable—until, of course, the MSM met someone they liked even better, namely, Barack Obama.
By contrast, the MSM has always sought to pound on Republicans. In the 70s, the liberal media—then at the height of its power—led the drive to push Richard Nixon out of office. The MSM similarly campaigned to get rid of Gerald Ford in 1976. In the 80s, the MSM strove mightily to kibosh President Ronald Reagan, and when their efforts failed, they accused the Gipper of being made of “teflon.”
At the turn of the century, the MSM was finely attuned to any and all accusations that George W. Bush had been a wasted youth when he was young. In 2000, Bush won anyway, although barely. And ever since, the MSM have been after him.
And now, fast forward to the eve of the 2016 presidential election: Today, the MSM are at it again, and journos are starting with the frontrunner, Jeb Bush. In the wake of a Boston Globe report on Jeb Bush’s high school days back in the 60s, the Powerline blog was moved to observe:
What about the claim that Jeb was a bully? It is based on precisely two incidents. In one, Bush and some friends sewed another boy’s pajama bottoms shut. In the other, Bush lifted up another boy. That’s the “bullying” tally for his four years at Andover. Pathetic…
This is reminiscent, of course, of the Washington Post’s long story about Mitt Romney’s high school days, featuring a decades-ago incident where Romney and others cut another boy’s hair. It’s remarkable: just when you think investigative reporting is dead, another Republican presidential candidate comes along to get reporters’ juices flowing again. Think what doggedness it requires to go back forty-odd years to research a politician’s high school days!
Powerline compared and contrasted the MSM’s scrutiny of Republicans and its lack of interest in Democrats:
Of course, no such energy is expended on researching the pasts of Democratic candidates. Forget about high school; we still don’t know anything about Barack Obama’s college or law school records, which apparently are treated as state secrets. Why? My guess is that he applied to college and/or law school as a foreign student from Kenya and secured preferential treatment or scholarship assistance on that basis. We know that he represented himself as a Kenyan for something like 20 years, even though he wasn’t. Also, why wouldn’t Obama release any of his medical records? (He had a doctor write a one-page letter instead.) He is a relatively young and apparently healthy man. What’s the problem? Is there something in his medical history that he didn’t want voters to know about? And if that is the case, isn’t it a little more significant than lifting up another kid as a teenager?
Of course, for the most part, we’re used to this by now: Conservatives understand that there’s an MSM double standard.
Indeed, we’re not even surprised when MSM applies this double standard to the relatively few non-liberal media outlets. One such is Fox News; the Fair & Balanced network is, of course, a regular target for the MSM. Just on Sunday, for example, CNN’s Reliable Sources [sic] show had on Gabriel Sherman, author of a scurrilous “biography” of Roger Ailes. The Sherman book was widely panned and sold poorly, and yet CNN had him on the air to talk about Fox.
From a news-consumer point of view, that’s flagrant media bias. But from a mainstream media point of view, CNN is simply playing by the rules of the MSM.