Hardened NBC watchers know to expect a shift toward the left when Andrea Mitchell is sitting in for Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." On Sunday's big media roundtable, the topic was the administration's "war" on the press. Bennett said Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, whose story on the CIA's secret prisons for terror suspects in Europe outraged Bennett, went all personal on Bennett by saying her story did not break the law: "I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime." (The liberal Washington Monthly broke the story in 2003 that Bennett had a bad habit of gambling away thousands of dollars on casino slot machines. The media glee was palpable.)
Overall, the panel was Bennett against the entire panel (including a feisty host in Mitchell) as everyone but Bennett asserted that there was no liberal politicking at the New York Times, and nothing but societal good done by the press. Mitchell even picked at Bennett as he pointed out that USA Today goofed up their story on telephone databases:
Bennett: ...the USA Today story about data mining. “Oh, sorry,” they tell us on Friday, “We maybe got that wrong. Our sources were wrong.”
Mitchell: Well, wait a second, the story wasn’t wrong. The—what they apologized for is that one of the companies, or two of the companies...
Bennett: Two of the companies.
Mitchell:...did not have contracts.
Bennett: Big, big part of the story.
Mitchell: But that the—but that the information was still being...
Dana Priest: The program was still valid.
Bennett: But they—a big part of the story...
Mitchell: But the fundamental part of the story was...
Bennett: ...big—big—big part of the story they got wrong. All right, check your facts when you’re running a front page...
Mitchell: I have.
Bennett: ...when they’re running front page, USA Today needs to check its facts.
Most annoying here was Mitchell's trip down memory lane with a pile of historical examples of politicians attacking the media -- Spiro Agnew in 1969, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Howard Dean in 2004, and Bush and Cheney last week -- as if it was a sorry, sorry tactic. Bill Safire exclaimed that a 'get the media" politics is historically shameful: "I can say that it gives you a blip, it gives you a chance to get on the offensive against the, the darned media. But in the long view of history, it’s a big mistake."
This is why people are angry at the media -- their complete arrogance in the face of criticism. They simply cannot take a challenge to their objectivity and their "news judgment." How many clips could Andrea Mitchell have shown of reporters arrogantly attacking Spiro Agnew on television, or Bush One or Two? Are presidents never allowed to criticize the press? Is Andrea Mitchell entitled to stand out on the White House lawn for a decade or two and lob bombs, and no one gets to criticize her, ever?
Conservative America has a message for the liberal media: if you can't stand the heat, then don't lecture us about freedom of speech. Because we're going to keep unloading it on you.