Excerpt from <a href="When Bush broke election spending records and opted out of publicly-financed campaign spending, the media excoriated him. Guess how much noise was made when Ace of Spades HQ:
What makes the “Neutral Story Line” not neutral at all is that the media seems most interested, each cycle, in the “Neutral Story Line” that hurts the Republicans more. For instance, the amount of money flowing into elections became a more and more intense problem as more and more money flowed to Republicans, putting Democrats at a disadvantage. The supposedly Neutral Story Line doesn’t really seem all that Neutral when you consider that there’s-too-much-money-in-politics reached its crisis stage during Bush’s 2004 election, when he spent more money than anyone in history, but suddenly wasn’t a problem at all when Obama topped him in 2008. This despite the fact that Bush actually had a higher percentage of small-money donors than Obama (as a percentage of total money donated), and Obama had a bigger percentage of high-dollar donors.
The media loves these story lines, because facially they appear neutral — “money in politics is a danger” has no on-its-face, explicit partisan import — but the timing of when to deploy a particular story line is highly partisan, and always made with the Democratic Party’s best interests in mind.
Thus, when Bush refused the campaign spending limits, and spent only private money, it was nearly a constitutional crisis; when Obama did the same, it was a triumph of people-powered politics.
Are conspiracy theories bad? Well, right now, when the Republican base is vulnerable to buying into conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace or sabotaged deep-drilling oil rigs, conspiracy theories are bad, and examples of the Paranoid Style of American Politics.
On the other hand, when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confessed to Mort Kondracke she feared Bush had actually captured bin Ladin and was secretly holding him only to publicize his capture on the eve of the 2004 elections, a party’s trafficking in conspiracy theories wasn’t even worth noting.
Certainly such conspiracy theories weren’t worth noting when Bush and Cheney (and their deadly cabal) were accused of sabotaging a plane in order to murder a sitting and popular liberal US Senator.
But consider the case of Sestack and Specter: The media will once again have its choice of two “neutral story lines” when that primary is resolved. It’s heads the Democrats win, tails the Republicans lose, as far as the media is concerned.
If Sestack wins, the media will in fact push the “neutral story line” they could have pushed, but chose not to, in Bennet’s case: That we’re retiring an old warhorse in favor of a fresh face and that proves that our system works.
On the other hand, if Specter wins, they’ll push the “neutral story line” that the Democrats, unlike Republicans, are welcoming of moderates.
Are we too interested in personal scandals which don’t really have much to do with a party’s governing philosophy? The answer is “No” if you mean Mark Foley or Mark Sanford; the answer is “Yes” if you mean Eric Massa or John Edwards.
Is it out of line for a former vice president to toughly criticize a new president of a different party? Well, if you’re Al Gore criticizing Bush, you’re just being patriotic and expressing the frustrations of millions of Americans. If you’re Dick Cheney criticizing Obama, you’re deliberately weakening a new president and endangering national security.
Is it patriotic, or treasonous, for a high-level national security staffer to leak to the press? Well, if you’re exposing Bush’s SWIFT snooping, you’re a patriot, keeping a vigilant eye on the shadowy, murky world of espionage. If you’re embarrassing Obama by noting that he has no Iran plan at all, you’re a dirty leaking traitor giving away critical state secrets for a cheap partisan advantage.
And dissent? Is it the highest form of patriotism or the lowest form of partisanship? I think you know the answer there, and the answer is, of course, It depends on who’s dissenting.
See also related: Presidential Double Standards: Bush and Obama Given Different Treatment on Same Issues, Name That Party! MSM Almost Always Omits Mention Democrat Party Affiliation of Convicted Politicians and Who is Violent: Left or Right?.
Follow up post at AoSHQ here.