Bozell Column: Media Go Leaner on Weiner
Last July, ABC and NBC highlighted a temper tantrum from Rep. Anthony Weiner, alleging on the House floor that the Republicans were denying health care to the heroes of 9/11. To Diane Sawyer, Weiner spoke for all of America: “Every now and then, someone seems to express the nation's frustration with the endless wrangling and delay in Congress.”
Remember Weiner when liberal journalists roll their eyes at the stupidity of conservatives. Weiner’s social-media sex scandal was underplayed by the national media precisely because they thought their ultraliberal star was far too smart to commit these stupid sex pranks with women he barely knew on the Internet.
The Old Media were clearly slow to jump on this story, even when Weiner all but admitted his guilt when he refused to deny he’d taken a picture of his own crotch and then couldn’t deny “with certitude” that this was his body. They knew what these answers meant, and yet they still waited for some other media – the New Media – to get to the bottom of it.
Andrew Breitbart and his blog Big Government began this story, and they finished it, at least in terms of forcing Weiner to confess he lied to everyone – spouse, staff, media, and public. Breitbart was right in explaining why: There’s an obvious double standard when the liberal media cover political scandal. They’re a pack of hungry lions to devour Republicans; they are mellow leaf-eaters when Democrats cross an ethical line.
Let’s recall the quick and dirty end of Republican Mark Foley’s career in 2006. When the story came out that Foley had sent lewd Internet messages to male congressional pages, the networks filed an amazing 152 stories over the first 12 days, almost all of them after Foley abruptly resigned. Foley’s scandal was a sex talk scandal. Investigators never found a physical relationship, but the media chewed that story clean to the bones. The timing – just weeks before midterm elections – surely was delicious.
The media not only demanded that Foley go, but so did House Speaker Dennis Hastert, since he didn’t stop this apparent predation of teenage Hill volunteers. “But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." NBC’s story then carried angry soundbites from outraged Democrats.
This is where the double standard’s transparently obvious. The media have worked overtime to limit the story. It’s about Weiner – and only Weiner. The new DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, robotically insisted this was a “private matter” to CBS and CNN, and both networks let her get away with it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and Bob Schieffer couldn’t even ask a single question about it.
As for comment from Republicans: Who cared what they thought?
Unlike Lauer five years ago, NBC’s Meredith Vieira insisted on June 2 that Weiner remained a “rising star” of the Democrats. “This guy is a rising star in this state, certainly in the city of New York, considered a front-runner for the next mayoral campaign. He talks about the personal toll this is taking on his marriage. What about the political toll?”
Chuck Todd said Weiner’s evasions were “odd” and “un-Weiner-like,” then he added something odd. He said “we all know he's probably answering tougher questions at home than he is in the dozen interviews he did yesterday.”
They even admit they’re coddling him.
The media’s lack of outrage was made more obvious the next morning, when Vieira asked “Meet the Press” David Gregory if other Democrats could have problems “if this story continues to have legs,” Gregory didn’t really see any legs. “There are still some outstanding questions about who sent the picture, was it him? I think if obviously something else comes to light, it's going to keep that story in the headlines. If not, I think he'll successfully be able to move past it.”
Notice how supposedly hardened journalists at NBC blatantly tells us on TV they aren’t actively seeking out “something else” and are willing to usher Weiner right past his scandal? All the networks were trying to let this story die. None of them discussed it on the Sunday shows. The only obstacle was Team Breitbart.
The liberal media claim to oppose the ascension of stupid politicians. But as Weinergate proves, they actually enable stupid politicians when the stupid ones are liberals. They are not the enforcers of political ethics and personal character. They’re just a reflexive partisan mob.