With the 2022 midterm elections just weeks away, the corporate media have begun to turn up the heat on Republican Herschel Walker, having identified him as a potentially vulnerable candidate in a tight Senate race. Yet those same journalists have bristled at any criticism of Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman — even when it’s come from their own colleagues.
Earlier this month, Walker was the subject of an October surprise: allegations arose that back in 2009, he had paid a former girlfriend to have an abortion. Since then, the media have been obsessive in their coverage of the scandal, eagerly reporting every new detail as it unfolds.
Scandals are, of course, fair game in an election. They’re a means of vetting candidates. But while the media eagerly flooded the airwaves with the latest tidbits about Walker’s scandal, they have been incredibly protective of another embattled Senate candidate: John Fetterman, who’s running as a Democrat in Pennsylvania.
On September 30, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes whined:
The Oz campaign and its allies in right-wing media are getting more desperate. Fox news in particular is just monomaniacally obsessed; they have ramped up the attacks on Fetterman to an almost-ludicrous degree.
Hayes’s outrage that a conservative news outlet would dare to go after a vulnerable Democratic candidate is laughable, especially considering how much time Hayes himself has spent attacking Walker. On October 14, Hayes devoted the majority of his show laying into his least favorite Republican candidates, at one point complaining about “Walker’s pattern of lying about, well, practically everything.”
Establishment journalists like Hayes defend Fetterman because they correctly view his candidacy as under threat. Fetterman in May suffered a stroke, and the few public appearances he’s made have only raised further questions about his cognitive fitness. The media spent months attempting to dismiss such questions as mean spirited or beyond the pale, up until last week when NBC’s Dasha Burns did the unthinkable. Following an exclusive in-person interview with Fetterman, Burns admitted that yes, he might actually be somewhat cognitively impaired.
To nobody’s surprise, her remarks elicited much horrified screeching from establishment journalists worried she might have hurt Fetterman’s electoral chances. Blue checkmarks spat venom at Burns on social media for days after, and the New York Times even published this laughably partisan attempt at damage control: “John Fetterman Is a Disabled American Who Needs Technology to Do His Job. So What?”
When one considers how diligent the establishment media have been in defending John Fetterman, their obsessive coverage of Herschel Walker starts to look a lot more like activism than journalism.