It was a tale of two media biases: One make-believe scandal pursued vigorously by the media. One authentic scandal vigorously dismissed by the media.
Earlier this month, the mainstream media released 24,000 pages of former Gov. Sarah Palin’s emails in pursuit of a scandal that did not exist. The Washington Post even asked its readers to sift through the emails themselves and “annotate the documents displayed on the Post website.”
The strategy backfired. Palin’s emails revealed nothing embarrassing or incriminating. No crime. No underwear shots. No yfrog photos in the Alaska gym.
Instead, left-leaning media outlets had to content themselves with fluff stories analyzing Palin’s “level of intellect” based on the unremarkable email cache. For instance, the Huffington Post reported that, “Palin’s emails were written at 8th grade level, an excellent score for a chief executive.” But – wait for it – Post reporters are still investigating a suspicious gap in Palin’s emails. Clearly, for the mainstream media, this was not the best of times.
On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Jon Stewart dismissed the idea that the Palin email story was rooted in media bias. “If your contention is that they [the media] are relentlessly partisan, then why haven’t they backed away from Weiner?” asked Stewart, who maintains that Fox News is the only biased media outlet. In his own words, he has characterized Fox as “a relentless agenda-driven, 24-hour news opinion propaganda delivery system.”
But when asked by Wallace whether other media outlets pushed an agenda, Stewart’s own bias became apparent. “Would you say the same thing about them [ABC, CBS, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post] that they are — in your words — a propaganda delivery system relentlessly pushing a liberal agenda?”
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” said Stewart.
Apparently, when it comes to media bias, Stewart has a faulty memory. The mainsteam media initially dismissed the Weiner story. Some media bought his “hacker” storyline. Early on, some – forgive the pun – poked fun at his underwear photo and dismissed it as harmless. Others sympathized with Weiner’s dilemma, blaming it on the advent of the new media.
In the end, it was not ABC, NBC, or the Washington Post that broke the Weiner sexting scandal story. That distinction belongs to (now vindicated) conservative blogger and author Andrew Breitbart, who, along with Big Journalism Editor Dana Loesch, had been accused of hacking Weiner’s Twitter and yfrog accounts. However, once Weiner’s pictures hit the Internet, even the unwilling media were forced to cover the story, leading to the embattled congressman’s resignation on Friday.
So much for Stewart’s flimsy claim of mainstream media objectivity, eh?
Moreover, Democrat leaders and their media counterparts are already laying the groundwork Weiner’s comeback. It is a tried and well-tested formula for political rehabilitation – a combination of media sympathy and political amnesia. And it only works for liberals.
Two cases in point.
Impeached in 1998 by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, President Bill Clinton is now experiencing a political resurgence. The president’s cover-up of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his subsequent lies to Congress permeated the public consciousness. Yet a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll taken in September 2010 placed Clinton on top as the most popular politician in America. Fifty-five percent of those polled held a positive view of him.
In 2008, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign after a New York Times article reported that he was a client of a high-priced prostitution ring under federal investigation. Less than two years later, CNN announced Spitzer would be joining the network to host a round-table discussion program with Kathleen Parker. In February 2011, Parker Spitzer became “In the Arena with Eliot Spitzer.” Hire a prostitute, get a gig at CNN?
That’s liberal political rehabilitation.
From all indications, the Anthony Weiner Comeback Tour is already afoot:
In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, President Obama said he had confidence in Weiner. “I’m confident that they’ll [Weiner and his wife] refocus and he’ll refocus, and they’ll end up being able to bounce back,” said the President.
The Huffington Post lamented the disgraced Weiner’s resignation, calling him a “champion of the middle class:”
For now, though, the [resignation] speech marked the ending of at least one version of his mostly triumphant but finally sad story: the rise and fall of the funny-looking middle-class Jewish kid from Brooklyn who spieled his way into popularity and power as Representative Anthony D. Weiner, scrappy champion of middle-class New York.
A scrappy hero of the middle class? Sexting porn stars? Sending strange women lewd pictures? Taking nude Twitpics of himself in the congressional gym? The protégé of Sen. Chuck Schumer? Who does HuffPo think they are kidding?
On Friday’s “Inside Washington,” NPR’s Nina Totenberg admitted she felt sorry for Weiner:
I finally felt sorry for Anthony Weiner at that press conference with people heckling him, making him a further spectacle. I mean the guy was finally resigning. You should be able to resign in public with a little, without, and control it a little bit without having people treat it as a spectacle. He’s gone, and it just seemed incredibly mean.
Barbara Walters also expressed concern over Weiner’s future on ABC’s “The View.”
“In a way it’s a tragedy.” said Barbara Walters. “He’s never had another job. What does he do after this?”
Yes, poor, poor Weiner. He’s a middle class hero who does not have a job. Don’t you feel sorry for him? As long as he is a progressive, left-wing Democrat?
Well, don’t. Like Spitzer, Weiner may already be heading to a cable TV network near you.
On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Keith Olbermann suggested he may hire the soon-to-be-former-congressman on the Al Gore-backed Current TV. “Well, you know, I’ve got a nine o’clock show that I am probably going to hire somebody for,” Olbermann told Fallon. “Eliot Spitzer is doing okay on CNN at eight o’clock.”
Current TV is an option for Weiner. Or maybe he could just take over Stewart’s spot on Comedy Central.
Crotch shot optional.