NBC's "Today" show devoted its entire 7:30am half-hour of its Wednesday morning program to Bill and Hillary Clinton as it invited on the former president to tout his wife's candidacy and his new book. During almost 13 minutes of one-on-one interview time with Clinton, Matt Lauer brought up the issue of too much money in politics but never asked about Bill's or Hillary's fundraising scandals, asked about Republican Larry Craig's sex scandal, but didn't mention Bill's own personal indiscretions and even let Clinton rant about the GOP's "Swift boat tactics" against Hillary.
Whether senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was outed for political purposes remains a subject of pure speculation one thing, however, is clear: There is a very dedicated group of left-wing gay activists out there who have made it their goal to drag gay Republicans' sex lives out into the public eye unless they toe the line politically.
Regardless of whether you think the Republican party should be more accepting of homosexuality, this tactic of invading people's private lives and exposing them to the public is nothing short of blackmail. Instead of condemning it, however, the liberal press celebrates such efforts as Patterico points out in a blog entry debunking a fawning Washington Post profile of gay blogger Mike Rogers:
Actor and commentator Ben Stein strongly defended Larry Craig on Friday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," arguing that the police officer who arrested the Idaho Republican senator used "Gestapo tactics" to "browbeat" him into pleading guilty when, in fact, Craig had not committed any illegal act.
"He didn't do anything. He tapped his foot," Stein said. "And I don't like the idea that people are sitting in the next stall from you at a public bathroom listening to whether or not you tap your foot. This is, as I said, Gestapo tactics, Gestapo, Gestapo, Gestapo. It's not America."
Just last fall, as the networks exploded with coverage of Mark Foley's creepy instant messaging, we noted the networks (like ABC) had a very different way of covering Republican sex scandals -- especially the gay-themed ones -- than they did for Democrats. The best example is Barney Frank.
Notice how the networks define hypocrisy, and how liberals never seem to qualify. Frank was a lawmaker with a male-prostitution ring in his house, not to mention a lawmaker who kept getting the pimp's parking tickets waved off. Notice how they all mention "the voters" will decide, instead of going searching for legislators and party activists to underline his need to resign.
The people who manufacture the news in America are very persistent at writing the narrative exactly as it helps liberalism emerge victorious. On ethical scandals, they're very good at making sure Republicans force theirs to resign, and they're also very good at keeping Democrats shamelessly in power.
If you needed any more evidence as to how little actor Alec Baldwin actually knows about politics, it was provided Saturday evening in the second sentence of his article at the Huffington Post (emphasis added):
"Even though [then Rep. Larry] Craig voted to censor Barney Frank for Frank's tryst with a male prostitute."
To begin with, Alec, the term is censure.
Adding insult to injury, a vote on censuring Frank never happened, for as reported by the New York Times on July 20, 1990 (emphasis added):
In light of the Larry Craig scandal, Time magazine's Joe Klein stepped up to the pulpit at the magazine's "Swampland" blog to insist that conservative Christians are being, well, un-Christlike with their moral opposition to homosexuality. Klein points to conservative objection to homosexuality for creating a culture of shame that forces gay men to seek sex in public restrooms.
To Klein, it's the religious right's fault, and boy are they misunderstanding what Jesus --or "Dr. J" as Klein calls him-- was all about (emphasis mine).:
Some people get angry at Craig's--and a long list of theofoolish sexual demagogues'--hypocrisy because they don't consider consensual adult homosexuality a matter of morality at all. Some people are infuriated at people like Craig etc. because they promote the social stigma that forces closeted gay men to find sexual solace in secret, shame-ridden places like public restrooms. Some people are angry enough to actually celebrate Craig's outing because of the untold pain and suffering that people like Craig have caused.
The Larry Craig kerfuffle has led to some interesting reversals. Many have argued that Craig was hypocritical for being gay (though he denies it) and voting for the Defense of Marriage Act which made it so that gay marriage in one state would not have to mean gay marriage in another. I don't think that's a persuasive argument since there is no logical reason that gay people cannot oppose gay marriage.
Unquestionably one group of people has been hypocritical here. Not the Republicans or the Democrats. The most hypocritical group in all this has been the self-described mainstream (actually liberal) media. In her column today, Linda Chavez is right on the money:
There is something more than a little bizarre with the latest Washington feeding frenzy over Sen. Larry Craig. Don't get me wrong. I think what Sen. Craig did in the men's bathroom in Minneapolis was gross and sleazy. But is it really worthy of the press attention it has received this week? I just can't imagine a Democratic member of Congress being subjected to the same treatment if the facts, as we know them so far, were identical. [...]
Perhaps the first famous name that comes to mind when it comes to policeman arrests in a restroom is George Michael, the former Wham! singer, who was busted in April of 1998 for lewd conduct in a restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. (The act was reportedly masturbation and some public nudity.) This story, with Michael's fame on the wane, drew almost no attention from the same national media outlets who are now pounding on the office door of Sen. Larry Craig and insisting he resign.
A quick Nexis search shows no George Michael arrest stories on ABC, or NBC. CBS offered this anchor brief from Russ Mitchell on the morning of April 11: "In other entertainment news, pop singer George Michael apologized to his fans in a CNN interview in LA last night. Michael was arrested Tuesday and charged with what police called a lewd act in a restroom in a public park in Beverly Hills. He is due in court next month."
When the Larry Craig case broke, I noted the New York Times's unusual diffidence in reporting it. Senator, Arrested at Airport, Pleads Guilty was all the Times's cryptic headline told us, failing to indicate Craig's name, party affiliation, or the crime for which he had been not merely "arrested" but to which he had pleaded guilty.
At the time I surmised that the Times's bashfulness could have been "the triumph of political correctness on matters gay over the paper's partisan impulse." That theory is borne out by the paper's editorial of today, Disowning Senator Craig.
The Times's bottom line on the matter:
Being stupid as a member of Congress is hardly a reason to be ridden on a rail from Washington . . . The rush to cast him out betrays the party’s intolerance, which is on display for the public in all of its ugliness.
Curious aside: whoever wrote the editorial had gone metaphor mad. Check these out:
This could be something of a first: a major MSM player admits there's a case to be made that the media is incredibly biased against Republicans.
As I noted here, when Tom DeLay accused the media of bias on this morning's "Today," Matt Lauer stonewalled: "I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it."
But appearing on this afternoon's Harball, DeLay successfully wangled an admission from host Chris Matthews.
TOM DELAY: If [Craig] has been found guilty of what he's been accused of, then yeah. But I do know that the Republicans will do something about it. I do know that if he were a Democrat they would rally around him and they would not do something about it. I do know that the national media is incredibly biased against Republicans that find themselves [in trouble] --
CHRIS MATTHEWS: That's a charge which I've heard before and I can understand why you make it. You make it a lot. Sometimes you have a case to make. Sometimes.
The rockier the rib, the more likely you'll find pink lingerie under the trousers or a bullwhip and manacles in the bedside drawer. You can bet those Beltway dominatrices, madams and escorts (gay and straight) have been able to buy second homes -- maybe even in Sun Valley! -- with their haul during W's reign.
Oh, it gets better. According to Burleigh, gay-baiting and the Amish vote were keys to Bush's 2004 re-election victory:
It's rare to see a leading MSM light directly confronted over the liberal media's bias. But it happened in spades this morning as Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called out Matt Lauer on the MSM's double-standard in handling Republican, versus Democrat, scandals.
Ana Marie Cox: not just a snarky ex-blogger turned Time editor anymore -- now a theologian who has pronounced Mitt Romney not a Christian.
The former Wonkette is all over MSNBC today. Early today on "Morning Joe," Cox cattily swiped at Katie Couric, surmising that the CBS Evening News anchor was traveling to the Middle East because she needed rugs. She has since claimed to have intended no slight to Katie or Middle Easterners. Right. Screencap from MJ after the break.
This evening, Cox appeared on "Countdown" to discuss the Larry Craig matter with Olbermann. Talk turned to the way Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) has dealt with the situation. The Idaho senator had served as Romney's co-chairman in the Senate. Romney was quick to disassociate Craig from his campaign, and Tuesday referred to Craig's behavior as "disgusting
On the Wednesday night edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" Chris Matthews and David Shuster continued to use the Larry Craig scandal to bury the GOP and while Matthews declared "the downfall of" Bush's party was "driven by every movement of the body politic" it was his colleague Shuster who outdid him when, after running down a litany of GOP troubles ranging from Craig to the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, charged: "It all adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
In contrast to the morning shows which exploited the arrest of Republican Senator Larry Craig, on charges stemming from alleged lewd conduct in an airport men's room, as a chance to tar the “right wing,” “conservatives” and the “GOP,” with the notable exception of CBS, the broadcast network evening shows -- which all led Tuesday night with Craig -- refrained from using the matter to malign Republicans or conservatives. ABC and NBC kept the story to Craig himself as ABC's World News framed the story around the on-screen heading: “Defiant Senator.” The NBC Nightly News keyed its coverage to how “Senator Craig Speaks.”
In contrast, the CBS Evening News saw a “scandal,” with “Craig Scandal” as the on-screen title. Katie Couric teased: “Tonight, Senator Larry Craig caught in a sex sting says the only thing he did wrong was plead guilty.” She led by declaring “the story exploded on front pages all over America today: Another member of Congress caught up in a scandal, a sex scandal. Republican Senator Larry Craig caught in a police sting at the Minneapolis airport.” In the subsequent story, reporter Sharyl Attkisson highlighted how “the GOP is already under a cloud with FBI investigations of Congressmen Rick Renzi, John Doolittle, Don Young, and Senator Ted Stevens.” Stuart Rothenberg, of the Rothenberg Political Report, then helpfully explained: “The Republican brand at the moment is very weak. And what this does, this adds to the buzz about Republicans and what do Republicans believe, and are Republicans hypocrites.”
A government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Idaho Sen. Larry Craig Tuesday after Craig said he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a men's room. . .
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Senate ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) may qualify to be described as a government watchdog group. What the Associated Press should have told its readers is that CREW is an extraordinarily partisan watchdog group.
According to its Web site, CREW has initiated lawsuits or lodged complaints against Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), and House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH).
Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" used the arrest of Senator Larry Craig in a men’s bathroom as an excuse to again herald the end of the Republican Party. Guest co-host Bill Weir teased a story on the Idaho legislator by wondering, "Is the GOP losing its grip?" Reporter David Kerley saw this as a case of Republican hypocrisy. He pointedly observed that "Craig is a conservative who lists among his goals to defend and strengthen the traditional values of the American family."
In early summer, the ABC morning show found another reason to predict doom for the GOP. Co-host Chris Cuomo, introduced a June 25 story on new polling data by claiming that the Republican candidates were "hitting some serious bumps in the road." He then ominously added, "So now the question is, can any of them beat the eventual Democratic nominee?"
For NBC's "Today" show crew it wasn't enough to label Larry Craig's scandal as a crisis for him personally or even to call it a crisis for the Republican Party, no "Today" went even further as it declared it a "crisis" for conservatives everywhere. NBC's Matt Lauer opened the Tuesday "Today" show asking his viewers: "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?"
Lauer's colleague Ann Curry, then piled on, as she wondered if the Craig incident spelled doom for the GOP's chances in ‘08: "How does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party, especially as we're now moving into a very critical time for the Republican Party facing this presidential election year?"
Advice to members of Congress: take the train. Our illustrious senators and congressmen seem to have a penchant for getting into trouble when they venture into airports. We're all familiar with how things went wrong for Rep. Patrick Kennedy in 2000 when he tried to barge his way past an airport screening employee. When just eight days ago Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.) was charged with assault and battery for his run-in with an airline employee at Dulles International outside DC, I noted here that CNN managed to get through its report on the matter without mentioning Filner's Democratic-party affiliation.
So naturally I was curious to see how some of the major papers dealt with the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and his guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport earlier this month.
Whereas CNN was shy about mentioning Filner's Dem roots, the Washington Post had no such hesitation when it came to indicating Craig's Republican-party membership. Indeed, the very first word of its headline announced it: