ABC's Tapper: Coverage of Hillary, Obama Could Be A Little Less Starry-Eyed

ABC reporter Jake Tapper offered a rebuttal of sorts to Kate Snow's report wishing Hillary to get that historic, landmark campaign going. (And what would he say to tea-sipping Cindy McFadden?) On his "Political Punch" blog, he wonders if reporters can manage to say something negative about the new cycle's Democratic stars:

Is there nothing negative to say about the presidential aspirations of Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barack Obama, D-IL?

From following recent media coverage, you'd hardly know that many leading Democrats have serious concerns that Clinton is unelectable, opposed as she is out of the gate by 4 in 10 Americans, according to polls.

Or that Barack Obama has admitted trying marijuana and cocaine in his youth (acknowledged in his beautifully-written autobiography "Dreams From My Father")and has a scant two years in the Senate to his name, with little to claim credit for legislatively.

Indeed, compare coverage of the questions as to whether President Bush ever tooted nose candy, with Obama's admission that he has.

At this point in the presidential race, we in the media tend to not harp on the negatives too much -- the thinking beig that there will be time for that during the ugly primaries and caucuses, many of the candidates are relatively unknown so broader biographical information consumes much of the coverage, and the horse race aspect of it all -- who's in, who's out -- remains the focus.

But that doesn't mean some of the coverage of Obama and Clinton specifically seems to confirm some of the conservative media criticism that we have unrepentant biases.

Yes, a Madame President or President Obama would be ground-breaking.

And yes, there are many fine things to say about both politicians.

And triple yes, we in the media (and I was certainly guilty of this) likewise gave occasionally glowing coverage to conservative Republican Sen.John McCain of Arizona. (Though that was when he was an underdog; we shall see how his 2008 coverage as frontrunner compares.)

I think we all in the media need to not let our personal enthusiams for Clinton/Obama, should they exist, get the better of our reports.

Ahem, "conservative" McCain? Tapper was working for the left-wing hack site Salon.com back then, which certainly had no interest in promoting conservatives. I don't think the story Tapper links to is as much pro-McCain as it is anti-Bush. If Obama's course were to follow George W. Bush's, reporters will begin questioning (or suggesting) alleged cocaine use in August. (Hey, Senor Tapper, see ABC's slanted record here.) But since he's acknowledged it rather than denied it or left the question open, and since he's a Democratic hopeful, I wouldn't count on it. In the 2000 campaign cycle, we noticed a rather distinct difference on Bush's alleged cocaine use and the drug use of Al Gore, who admitted a few incidents of pot-smoking, but others suggested he was a frequent user. It's just another example of liberal media favoritism.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis