Bozell Column: An Upside-Down World

April 2nd, 2008 1:09 PM

The presidential campaign seems upside down, like a bad April Fool's joke. Suddenly, the titans of the liberal media are wondering out loud if Hillary Clinton should quit the presidential race, while Hillary is kindly greeting and grinning at every vaunted "vast right-wing conspiracy" media outlet from Dick Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a leading Hillary advocate, hailed Fox News as the fairest to Mrs. Clinton.

It is truly bizarre.

At the start of the new year, the dominant storyline was how the Clinton Juggernaut would eventually crush everyone in its path to the Democratic presidential nod. Certainly, Barack Obama's fundraising was matching hers, and his media clips were so sugary they'd make cotton candy seem bitter. But no one really believed Hillary would be where she is today, just three months later, finding herself hounded to go "home" to New York.

Mrs. Clinton's situation is so dire she's relying on Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," calling on his multitudes of listeners to vote for Hillary to keep the race going. Some liberals don't like this. CNN reporter Carol Costello labeled it "Rush Limbaugh's dark strategy to weaken the Democratic Party." Hillary, on the other hand, should be lighting votive candles in thanksgiving.

Hillary's latest bout with the media arrived when the networks decided to acknowledge that her tall tale about Tuzla — she claimed in a March 17 speech that she landed in Bosnia in 1996 in the face of "sniper fire" — was easily and obviously disproven by network news footage of the event. It showed Hillary calmly walking on the tarmac with her daughter Chelsea. Even on that story, the networks were slow to report damaging news. Six full days after the NewsBusters blog posted old CBS footage, and two days after The Washington Post awarded the former First Lady "four Pinocchios" for unloading a "real whopper," the networks finally aired the footage and the memories of the reporters who actually accompanied her to Bosnia on that day.

The Get-Out whispers have started because many reporters are clearly worried about the fate of Democrats in the fall. It was Topic A when Barack Obama allowed interviews on the ABC and CBS evening newscasts on March 27. On ABC, Charlie Gibson wondered "no matter who emerges" as the nominee, isn't the winner hurt in the general election? When Obama tried to disagree, Gibson worried further with a Gallup poll showing 28 percent of Hillary supporters would vote for John McCain in the fall, while 19 percent of Obama supporters would prefer McCain to Hillary.

In the heat of battle, those numbers are probably exaggerated. But if the fall election is as close as the last two, even if only one in ten keep this promise, it could give the election to McCain. Are the "objective" media supposed to fret so publicly over the chances of the Democrats?

Sitting in for Katie Couric at CBS, Harry Smith was more obvious with Obama about urging Hillary to step aside. "If you're the presumptive candidate here, isn't it time that you say, with some severity, that we can't go on like this?" After Obama replied "well, no," Smith objected: "At the cost of losing the general election?"

These anchors also have behaved like loyal Democrats in how they glossed over Obama's worsening problem with his minister, Jeremiah Wright. The day before the interviews, exposed the November/December 2007 edition of Wright's church magazine The Trumpet. Wright proclaimed the crucifixion of Jesus was a "public lynching, Italian-style" and that "The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans." Again, Wright proclaimed that in America and around the world, "white supremacy is clearly in charge."

A news story for the networks? No. Once again, CBS's Smith was softer. He completely skipped the issue. ABC's Gibson hailed Obama for his "extraordinary" speech on race, and then gently, vaguely nudged: "Can you understand why many, particularly white voters, are so repelled by the remarks that he has made?"

Gibson acknowledged Wright's remarks were repulsive to "many," but apparently not to him. He did not ask Obama why he would donate buckets of cash to this sinister minister with the "God damn America" sermons who's now spoiling Obama's appeal with Italian-Americans.

Then there's NBC. By the time they gained their own access to Obama on the campaign trail, Ann Curry was asking Obama which rock band the candidate preferred, "Beatles, or the Rolling Stones?"

The networks want Hillary to lose Pennsylvania, so she's not making up the sound of rhetorical sniper fire from her usual media allies. No one should have any doubt that all will be forgiven when and if she decides to bow her knee to the media-manufactured majesty of the Great and Powerful Obama.