To Vizzini’s list of well-known classic blunders that one should avoid at all costs, I would add a third: in addition to avoiding involvement in Asian land wars and shunning confrontation with Sicilians when death is on the line, a third classic blunder is the modern citizen’s expectation of a balanced, rational and sane media in a culture infected to its core by cushy elite liberalism.
L’affaire voie fermature and the obsessive coverage of Chris Christie is the latest instance media hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness. It is a full on orgy of projection, speculation and righteous condemnation, which would be fine if all scandals were given similar shrift. What makes the Christie spectacle in the media so obscene is the denial that anything unseemly is going on. In fact, progressive media henchmen have noticed the critique and are ridiculously calling out conservatives for having the audacity to call them out for participating in such despicably slanted reporting. Here’s Joan Walsh and Brian Beutler at Salon attempting to shape reality to their own stunted worldview. Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisted that the Christie scandal is far worse than something like the IRS, NSA or AP phone-tapping scandals that discredited Obama’s credibility with the public and would have threatened his Presidency had the media adopted an iota of curiosity or skepticism of the administration’s accounts. John Podhoretz helpfully explains the disparity in media scrutiny of Obama’s abuses of power and those committed by a prestigious Republican with eyes on the White House. And here’s an LA Times hack scoffing that conservatives doth protest too much. The facts are that Bridgeghazi received seventeen times more coverage in 24 hours than the IRS targeting of the Tea Party got in six months. GOP members in the House have played the role of investigative journalists while actual journalists have ignored the obvious leads and inquiries lest they discover a trail leading to the administration. And there are scant few honest progressives uncomfortable with such a tilted media landscape because, after all, progressives want just such a tilted landscape.
The question that keeps nagging at me though is this: Is anyone embarrassed? Particularly among liberals and progressives, is there no one with a conscience or sense of propriety that is just a little bit embarrassed by the cavalcade of elite media obsession with this story? It clearly is a story; one deserving of investigation and thorough coverage, but to this degree? When Meet the Press devotes its first 33 minutes of airtime to a single story, it is usually either a war or a major scandal involving someone in the federal government. This is a local scandal involving a prominent rising figure in national GOP politics, but still a local scandal. The IRS targeting scandal affected millions of Americans across the country. That is a national scandal, but mainstream media analysis neglected to treat IRS conduct as devious and instead concentrated on absolving the White House of any culpability. That same “nothing to see here” and “no smoking gun, time to move on” attitude was never an option in the Christie case. This was a chance to “clear the deck,” to wipe a formidable potential opponent from the game board three years out from the next election. Jonah Goldberg nailed it with his observation that our culturally and politically homogeneous media are defined less by progressive principles and values and more by trite partisanship. The disparity in coverage of Obama’s scandals and the Christie story is simple: Obama is their guy, and Christie could easily become an obstacle to their girl, thus if/when an opportunity arises, it’s ready, fire, aim. It’s entirely political and entirely partisan. Few liberals in America worry about the unethical use of government power; they just care that a Republican come under fire for it and that his reputation be eviscerated. There was never going to be the same hunger to get to the bottom of any abuses of power coming from Saint Obama.
Just once, it would be wonderful to hear a progressive journalist or blogger express exasperation at his colleagues’ double standards and call them out as the hypocrites they are. The only one who comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, a noble progressive who respects libertarian philosophy and the conservative critique of government because he himself is suspicious of concentrated government power. The most important development this country can experience in the near-future is a widespread reckoning by progressives that activist government is an enemy to liberty and that those wishing to expand government’s reach should be met with skepticism (if not outright cynicism). Until then, do not expect a media comprised of east coast liberals and power-worshiping sycophants from elite Ivy League schools to behave anything like a neutral watchdog press, and don’t get bent out of shape when its adversarial relationship with the powerful only applies to the evil bastards on the other team.
Some double-standards are perennial, and they’re not going away. It would just be nice if those guilty of hypocrisy would feel a little embarrassed by it.