Anthony Weiner: Partisans Take to Internet to Rip News Media Over Alleged Biases
As with any political scandal in the Internet era, partisans have been using the occasion to offer up proof-positive that the mainstream media is hopelessly bias.
With Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, it’s mostly Republicans who are griping about the liberal media. The complaints are falling into four major categories:
1. Major media outlets ignored the story when it broke last week.
2. Journalists uncritically reported Weiner’s tale that his Facebook and Twitter accounts were hacked, which he admitted Monday was a lie.
3. The media was more interested in attacking the messenger – Andrew Breitbart – than it was in reporting the sexually provocative photo the married congressman tweeted to a 21-year-old college woman.
4. Media pundits were softer on Weiner than they were on Republicans who were caught in sex scandals, like Chris Lee, John Ensign, Larry Craig, David Vitter and Mark Foley.
In Category 4, some, like Barbara Walters on The View, even worked out theories to excuse Weiner.
After noting that Weiner’s beautiful wife is chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, therefore, travels a lot, Walters said this: “It may be that he took that picture and sent it to his wife to say, ‘this is how much I miss you.’” (video below).
On The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, Chrystia Freeland, the Reuters editor at large, was calling Weiner “classy” for not dragging his wife on stage for his apology, which she called “a masterful performance.” She even worked in a compliment for Eliot Spitzer, the former Democrat governor of New York who now hosts his own show of CNN. After Spitzer was caught using prostitutes, he resigned, which makes him “a really classy guy,” according to Freeland. (Video below).
Breitbart’s credibility, meanwhile, was called into question by numerous pundits, such as CNN commentator Jeffrey Toobin, who said: “We do need to point out that the person behind this is Andrew Breitbart, who has made a practice of targeting Democrats – Shirley Sherrod most notoriously of all – and his stories tend to fall apart on close inspection.” (Video below).
Media Matters, the left-leaning watchdog group, slammed CNN for even allowing Breitbart on air to talk about the Weiner story, and said the "right-wing blogosphere launched itself into a creepy tizzy" over the story.
Some bloggers were taking NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams to task for reporting on a “PR problem” that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey had because he flew in a police helicopter to his son’s high school baseball game. That report came the day the Weiner story broke, but Williams ignored it, even though it was obvious that Weiner had a much bigger “PR problem” than Christie had.
At Big Government, one of Breitbart’s sites, blogger John Nolte complained a day after it broke that few in the mainstream media cared about the Weiner story. “Naturally, the hacking of a Facebook account connected to one of the best known and most outspoken Democrats in Congress is a bonafide story – unless you’re afraid of where that story might lead,” he wrote.
Breitbart, though, was asked on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Monday to name a mainstream reporter he thought covered the Weiner story accurately, and he named Dana Bash at CNN. (Audio below).
All this chatter of a bias in the media is nothing new, and this time it’s the right’s turn to make the claim, and they’ve been doing it by posting new and old video evidence.
A perennial favorite – being brought up anew -- is to highlight gaffes made by President Barack Obama that the media allegedly ignored, like the time he said he visited 57 states and had one more to go. If Sarah Palin or President George W. Bush made such an error, the argument goes, the media would talk about it for years. (Video below).
But it wasn’t exclusively the right that was seizing on Weiner to make the case that the media is biased. Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, for example, wrote that when it comes to the media’s coverage of sex scandals, Republicans have it easier.
“Republicans get away with sex-related scandals much more easily than Democrats do. Moral of the story: If you’re going to screw around, be part of the GOP,” he wrote.
“Not only do the Republican scandals seem worse in their scope and severity, but we’re talking about ‘the family values party.’ Indeed, except for Giuliani and maybe Schwarzenegger, all of the recent Republicans caught with their pants down have been sleazy and hypocritical,” Benen wrote.