I tried to get through a Jonah Goldberg column this morning. It’s a semi-regular exercise in futility I try when his columns appear in the Chronicle. For those that want to try the same game I will give you a leg up here. Since most of you likely don’t have the stomach for it, I’ll provide the reader’s digest version.
The source of frustration began with the whole story that Mitt Romney supposedly hazed a fellow teenager when he was 17. That topic alone I have no problem with. Focusing on that story represents the very worst in politics. All of us have probably had the nightmare where we are running for office and suddenly the press (or our opponent) focuses on the one stupid thing we did when we were kids. If I were running for president I would sign an agreement with my opponents that anything happening before the age of 18 would be off-limits.
However, in making this argument, Goldberg jumps the proverbial shark into making the argument that the press gives liberals a pass. This is a trademark of conservatism. Every time the press gets a conservative in their crosshairs, the double standard argument follows. Of course, if they only remembered the half of it. Let’s look at Goldberg’s list on Obama and John Kerry and see where we can get.
First, we have the “fact” that the press did not press Obama on his relationship with Jeremiah Wright. Hmmmm, I remember that happening differently. I remember Wright staying in the news for several weeks and Obama had to address it not only with a statement, but also a landmark speech on race in America. Does anyone remember John Hagee? Most of you may not remember that name because the press hardly covered it. Hagee endorsed McCain and made a hefty contribution to his campaign. McCain tacitly endorsed his views if we follow the same rules as Obama sitting in the audience with Jeremiah Wright. The so-called liberal media dropped the ball on that one.
As for John Kerry, Goldberg linked him to a group that talked about assassinating U.S. Senators. The swift boat captains really drove home the fact that Kerry “didn’t speak for them.” Yet, the so-called liberal media hardly covered the fact that George W. Bush was a former alcoholic, cocaine user, and someone that virtually ducked military duty during the same time frame.
Of course, I shouldn’t expect anything less from the “journalist” that knew and supported Andrew Breitbart. As someone that is paid to be a journalist I’m surprised he doesn’t understand how the press works. It comes down to profit motive. The narratives we see in the press are not liberal or conservative per se, but commercial. Since gay marriage has become a real issue, it is timely and attractive to come up with a story of Mitt Romney hazing a gay kid. Whether he hazed the kid or not is immaterial. Heck, whether the kid was gay or not is also immaterial. That’s the way the game is played.
The same thing happened when Obama was seeking to become the first black president. Suddenly, the ramblings of his crazy minister became news. To their credit, both Romney and Obama handled these stories about as well as they could. Most intelligent voters wouldn’t base their vote on the ramblings of a crazy minister or a prank done 50 years ago. The irony is that John McCain had his own crazy minister that wasn’t covered in the media and I’m sure Obama did some crazy things when he was 17.
The gist of Goldberg’s point was that Romney should call the press on being in the bag for Obama. Yup, that would work right. It wouldn’t make him sound paranoid or anything. Is the press Obama’s 12th man as Goldberg asserts? The problem Goldberg has is that he himself has a very slanted view. There’s nothing wrong with that as we have one here at the Hurricane. The problem comes when you argue that there is a slant in the mainstream media. If everything that comes through you has a particular slant (left or right) then your ability to spot bias from the center is skewed. In parlance, when you are extremely conservative or liberal, everything that appears in the middle can appear to be biased. Then, it becomes easy to focus on the stories that align with that line of thinking. Amnesia takes care of the rest.