I'm in the unusual position of defending uber-liberal Margaret Carlson. Carlson, formerly of Time and CNN's old Capital Gang, now with uber-liberal Al Hunt's Bloomberg News, was unfairly ripped by Taylor Marsh over at Huffington Post Saturday.
Carlson sent an e-mail to someone suggesting that, as far as Hillary Clinton's candidacy is concerned:
..... I covered the Clinton White House for 8 years and don't think it would be good for the country to go back there.
Relatively innocuous stuff.
Not according to Marsh, who launched into a major rant:
Op-ed columnists, however, can say whatever they want, but they should not split hairs about the true motives behind their agenda, which is manifest through articles and subsequent cable tv talking head performances. Carlson also obviously doesn't think there will be any repercussions for sharing her anti Hillary Clinton agenda. She also doesn't seem to care if a reader knows she's out to get the Clintons, as long as it's not known in the wider world. After all, she can't interrupt her commentator gigs or her poison pen Bloomberg columns targeting the Clintons.
Oh, horse manure. Carlson's opinion is pretty mild, and indicates no strong "agenda" to "get" anyone. Ms. Marsh's reaction only proves that, as is the case all too often, any criticism of Hillary Clinton is recast as an attempt to destroy her.
This is the type of reaction that makes its way all the way up the Old Media food chain, and not just over Mrs. Clinton. Although the Carlson-Marsh situation is Dem-on-Dem, Marsh's reaction illustrates how any criticism of a liberal or Democrat by anyone, but especially a conservative or Republican, gets characterized as a "personal attack," even when the criticism (as is usually the case) is entirely about issue positions, or, in Carlson's case, so mild as to not even be yawn-worthy.
As NB's Martin Finkelstein noted earlier this morning, Old Media types like Matt Lauer, as he did in a Barack Obama interview, don't even wait for the "Swiftboating" attacks to occur, instead simply assuming that they're coming (of course, the actual definition of "Swiftboating" is "telling the truth about Democrats").
Now if Ms. Marsh wants to see a real example of a media person with a clear "agenda," try this from September of 2004, via Powerline:
We may be inching closer to the truth about the false Associated Press report claiming that a Republican crowd in West Allis, Wisconsin, booed the announcement that President Clinton had been hospitalized, and "President Bush did nothing to stop them."
(Scott) Lindlaw is one of the AP reporters who cover the Bush campaign. His anti-Bush prejudices are well-known; our source has heard him say that his "mission" is to see that Bush is not re-elected.
On the day of the West Allis rally, Lindlaw was wearing ear plugs in his ears, as he often does to minimize crowd noise. After Bush's speech, he approached another AP reporter and said that he thought he had heard boos, and asked whether his colleague had heard any. The second AP reporter said that she didn't hear any booing. Nevertheless, Lindlaw apparently sent in a story, which wound up for some unexplained reason under Tom Hays' byline, which said: "Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them."
I wonder if this bothered Ms. Marsh even a little bit at the time. The September 2004 entries at her web site (reviewed in some detail by yours truly), plus a search on "lindlaw" at the site that returned no results, would indicate that the answer is "not so much."
Were there any repercussions for Lindlaw? A month later, in commenting on yet another another biased Lindlaw report, Powerline didn't see any:
The (Wisconsin crowd) story was a complete fabrication, later retracted by the AP, but the AP has never responded to our many emails on the subject, and to our knowledge Scott Lindlaw has never been disciplined in any way for filing a false story.
Indeed, Mr. Lindlaw continues to ply his trade for AP, currently in California. One of his more recent efforts is this economic sky-is-falling report from the Golden State -- which I also suspect doesn't bother Ms. Marsh even a little bit.
Cross-posted in slightly revised form as part of this entry at BizzyBlog.com (third item at entry).