Charles Krauthammer on Friday made a truly wonderful observation about how differently the media handle leaks of classified information depending on whether there's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House.
As the discussion on PBS's "Inside Washington" moved to the Wikileaks affair, the Washington Post's Colby King said, "I don't see it as such a difficult issue at all for the Pentagon. It's, you know, it's our material, it's not [Wikileaks']."
This led Krauthammer to ask, "How come in the Bush years and the Nixon years, when you leaked stuff that's our material, classified material, you end up with a Pulitzer Prize, and now if you have a Democratic administration, you end up being condemned from left and right?"
He continued, "I'm not sure I understand" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Let me touch on something in terms of we talked about last week, and that's the Wikileaks issue. The Pentagon now wants to get its hands on all of these papers. What are the odds of that? We don't know if this guy will give them up, I mean he's publishing them everywhere.
JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO: Right, well and there this fascinating bid by Wikileaks, I think a pretty interesting play by them. They've actually gone to the Pentagon and said, "Well, yeah, we would love to discuss with you what's exactly sensitive in here. Why don't you come to the table and talk about it?" I think the Pentagon is saying they have not really been asked that, but that is what Wikileaks is saying, which would put the Pentagon in a very awkward position because they, you know, there's talk of prosecuting these folks. They do not want to be sitting at the same table with them going through page by page...
PETERSON: Well, Admiral Mullen says they're putting lives at risk.
COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: I don't see it as such a difficult issue at all for the Pentagon. It's, you know, it's our material, it's not yours. We're not going to negotiate with...
GERSTEIN: Well, but their materials may be in your newsroom as well.
KING: That's okay.
GERSTEIN: Should they come over and pick those up?
KING: They can ask us for it. We won't give it to them, but they have every right to demand it.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But if it's such a simple issue...
KING: But you don't negotiate it.
KRAUTHAMMER: If it's such a simple issue, how come in the Bush years and the Nixon years, when you leaked stuff that's our material, classified material, you end up with a Pulitzer Prize, and now if you have a Democratic administration, you end up being condemned from left and right? I'm not sure I understand.
I'm not sure I do either.
After all, just how many Pulitzers were passed out to so-called journalists during the Bush and Nixon years for leaking classified information? And how many went to members of the Washington Post?
Yet there's the Post's King for the second week in a row taking a position that he likely didn't take in the previous decade or under Nixon, and probably wouldn't if McCain was in the White House.
As such, why the double standard?