The gang at Politico is under fire from liberal friends for a piece by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei alleging major newspapers have a pro-Obama, anti-Romney bias. For example, Devin Gordon, a former Newsweek writer who's now a "senior editor" at GQ, lamented "The house position of Politico, as evidenced by this piece, is that they are fair and their chief competition is not. It's a thinly disguised, fundamentally craven argument for Politico's superiority in the world of political coverage."
Unsurprisingly, the newspapers claimed they were fair and balanced in the Dylan Byers followup:
Times political reporter Richard Stevenson defended his paper's reporting on the presidential campaign.
"Since the very first stirrings of the 2008 campaign, the Times has exhaustively and aggressively covered nearly every aspect of Barack Obama's story," Stevenson said. "To suggest that we've pulled our punches or tilted coverage in his favor or against his opponents just is not supported by the facts."
The Washington Post also stood by its reporting in a statement to the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone.
"The depth, quality and fairness of our coverage is visible every day to every one of our readers," a Post spokeswoman said. "Assertions of bias just don't square with the reality of our journalism."
Allen and VandeHei noted how The Washington Post published a huge front-page story on allegations that Mitt Romney cut a kid's hair when he was in high school. But Barack Obama's major pot-smoking in high-school didn't make the front page, but landed on page A-6:
Maraniss’s reporting included colorful details of Obama’s pot-smoking prowess: “As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called ‘TA,’ short for ‘total absorption.’ To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” Maraniss writes in his book.
Even today, the top of the Post's front page sells a large article that spills all over the back page alleging Romney shed a reformist approach to nominating judges as governor of Massachusetts.
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer made the case about bias in the Politico piece.
“The press never ran probing, sneering stories about candidate Obama, and yet The Washington Post and New York Times are on overtime covering who-cares stories about Mitt Romney.
“[R]eporters asked him follow-up questions about the [bullying] story. But can anyone imagine a reporter at a presidential news conference asking President Obama about what he did in high school? … The love affair of 2008 may no longer be a love affair, but it’s a like-a-lot affair. There’s no equivalency for the right.”
Gov. Haley Barbour added, “The New York Times has given Obama the longest wet kiss in political history, and they have done him a favor again," he said about the Ann-and-horses story.