The Unvetted Canard

Jun 1 2012 @ 11:45am

Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen have decided that Republicans have a point when they claim that "reporters are scaring up stories to undermine the introduction of Mitt Romney to the general election audience – and once again downplaying ones that could hurt the president." Weigel revisits the facts:

You can't compare Obama 2012 to Romney 2012, because Obama's already been his party's nominee and won an election. Go back to Obama's first run. In April 2007, nearly a year before he became a campaign issue, the Times published a 2,593 word Jodi Kantor story (with addtional reporting from Kenya!) about Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his relationship to Barack Obama. The story appeared on A1. On May 11, 2008, when Obama had largely locked up the nomination but still had to fend off Hillary Clinton in tough states, the Times published a 5,024 word story titled "Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side," which delved into Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn — "Hyde Park's fringes," and "unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War." This also appeared on A1. …

Here's the issue: the "Obama wasn't vetted" outrage doesn't have any quantitative, factual proof.

If you're angry that Obama won in 2008, it sure feels like the media went too easy on him. It sure feels like the press was so interested in the story of the First Black President that it ignored stories that reflected poorly on him. Feeling isn't proving. Still, don't get me wrong — it's really interesting that Haley Barbour, a Republican lobbyist and former governor, thinks the media is being unfair to his party's candidate. One point to Politico!

Friedersdorf is flabbergasted by the lack of moral perspective: 

So to sum up, one candidate is portrayed, accurately, as being extremely rich, with a wife who has rich-person leisure-time pursuits; and the other candidate is portrayed, accurately, as someone whose secretive policies have wrought dead children, broken promises, violated due process rights, and possibly created more terrorists. And our political culture in the United States is so blinkered that the story about the rich candidate whose wife rides horses is regarded, by conservatives and savvy Politico journalists, as the one that is noteworthy for being negative; whereas the story about the Orwellian turn in the White House doesn't even merit mention. It isn't even raised as an example when "vetting Obama" is discussed.

Devin Gordon adds:

Let's get macro for a moment. This Politico story was written by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, two people at the very top of the organization's masthead. It's effectively an unsigned house editorial. And it levied a charge of journalistic malpractice at two of Politico's biggest rivals. The house position of Politico, as evidenced by this piece, is that they are fair and their chief competition is not. It's a thinly disguised, fundamentally craven argument for Politico's superiority in the world of political coverage. Let's call this article for what it was. It wasn't journalism. It was business.