How could a liberal actually be upset with the liberal media for their coverage of the 2012 presidential election? Well, Daniel Froomkin of The Huffington Post (formerly of The Washington Post) is furious. His complaint carried the headline “How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign.”
What would that story be? “Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.”
Head Scratch Time. Who is the media didn’t identify the Grand Old Party as burdened, infected, and/or poisoned by their conservatives?
Froomkin also claimed that the Republicans lied daily, not only in the Romney TV ads, but that “the party's most central campaign principles -- that federal spending doesn’t create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit -- willfully disregarded the truth.” Political analyst Norman Ornstein agreed with Froomkin: “It's the great unreported big story of American politics.”
A liberal can arrive at this conclusion only by keeping his mind blissfully empty, abstaining from any hazardous contact with the actual content of the liberal media over the last eleven months. Newspapers and newscasts spent months vilifying Romney as a tool of his fellow millionaires, denouncing his ads as dishonest (and race-baiting to boot), and robustly defending the soundness of Obamanomics, regardless of the actual record.
But in Froomkin Loony Land, the rhetoric just wasn’t punchy enough. Every “objective” evening newscast should apparently begin: “And again today, the Republicans attempted to fool the American electorate with their flagrant lies.”
One can see why Froomkin was eagerly hired by Arianna Huffington, since she wrote an entire book in 2008 called “Right Is Wrong,” making this same case against any reverence for “fairness and balance” in journalism. Liberals are always right, conservatives are always wrong, and the media have a “pathological devotion to the idea that truth is always found in the middle.”
Arianna’s solution? Don't let the “radical right” spread their lies and never treat their arguments as serious.
Froomkin’s heroes are Ornstein and his fellow liberal Thomas Mann. He claims despite all evidence that “Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures” and “two of the most consistent purveyors of conventional wisdom in town, bipartisan to a fault.” Mann works at the “centrist” Brookings Institution, and Ornstein at the “conservative American Enterprise Institute.”
Their “centrist” credentials supposedly buttressed their 2012 book, which claimed that everything wrong in Washington is the fault of the right-wingers ruining the Republican Party, who are "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
But wait. Don’t all these claims describe Arianna Huffington and her hired gun Froomkin?
Mann and Ornstein and their caustic conservative-hating thesis quickly became the toast of PBS, NPR, MSNBC, and other liberal media outlets. Ornstein was even welcomed back for a second long interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” on the day after the election to restate his “great unreported” thesis, with Gross asserting in defiance of the facts that her guest was “known for his nonpartisan analysis.”
Two years ago, in the last lame-duck session, Ornstein oozed on NPR that the first two years of Obama were stuffed full of legislative accomplishments, which were only augmented after the 2010 midterms. “This is really a very big fat cherry on the top of the whipped cream of a quite nutritious filling, maybe even fat-producing, sundae. [Harry] Reid deserves a lot of credit for what was a masterful performance as leader.”
By contrast, in 2005, Ornstein the “nonpartisan” wrote a column denouncing the vanilla House Speaker Denny Hastert as an autocrat, "the Vladimir Putin of American Politics."
Inside their liberal bubble, Mann and Ornstein told Froomkin they refuse to be "balanced" on TV shows by Republicans -- “because they are not anti-Republican. The reason they wanted the press to expose what was really happening, they said, was to give voters a chance to respond in an appropriate way.”
Translation: They wanted the cancerous tumor of conservatism to be removed from American politics. But take their word for it: they’re nonpartisan centrists.
Liberal journalists weren’t even angry at this argument. “I find Mr. Ornstein and Mr. Mann's observations smart, provocative and on target in many, though not all,places,” wrote Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times. We’re trying to get away from “false equivalence,” she insisted. “That progress, granted, isn't happening fast enough or -- more important -- sweepingly enough. And their point of view ought to provoke some journalistic soul-searching.”
“Soul-searching” is apparently what happens when liberal reporters ponder why they haven’t been liberal enough.