To the Networks, Arlen Specter Is No Joe Lieberman, and Pat Toomey Is No Ned Lamont

Tim Graham
May 5th, 2009 2:32 PM

As the networks continue to pound away at their pet theory that social conservatism will make the Republican Party extinct, suggesting that the last Republican in New England should turn out the lights when he or she leaves, it's worth remembering that the drive-by media's horror-movie narrative -- call it Attack of the Fringe -- never plays in theaters with a Democrat in the lead.

The networks are very consistent in denying there’s a "fringe" on the Democrat side, and they find internal Democratic fights are a perfectly good story – best saved for drinks after the newscast is over.

Let’s go to Connecticut in August 2006, when fringy leftist Ned Lamont defeated Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary. (At least Lieberman had the guts to fight and lose within his own party -- and he never became a Republican.) Did that display the "fringe" attacking the reasonable career moderate? Wrong. To the media, it only proved that President Bush was politically toxic.

On CBS, over video of a Bush embracing Lieberman, with "KISS OF DEATH" on screen, Jim Axelrod provided the anti-Bush party line: "Call it the ‘kiss of death.’ President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary."

Wasn’t Lamont fringy? No, he and his ultra-left blogger Kosmonaut army were merely "anti-war." CBS's Trish Regan found: "It's a sentiment that anti-war bloggers tapped into. They waged a successful cyber campaign against their three-term senator. The message? Anti-war and anti-Bush means anti-Lieberman."

Chip Reid, then with NBC, couldn’t even call them liberal: "Lamont got a huge boost from Internet activists who attacked Lieberman for his support of President Bush's war plan." Anchor Brian Williams could only say "Lieberman has been a steadfast defender of President Bush's Iraq war policy, his opponent anti-war, and now the fallout from all of this begins."

CNN political guru Bill Schneider couldn’t find a far-left fringe with both hands and a laptop: "Why did they reject him? Because nearly 60 percent said Lieberman is too close to President Bush."