May 4, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 32 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Now that the presidential race is heating up, we’re getting our quadrennial lesson in the hopeless and perennial nature of media bias. Hillary Clinton is proving to be the most obviously corrupt major presidential candidate since her husband, and before that, you’d probably have to go back to Nixon to find someone worse. And yet, every damning new revelation about her conduct—from possibly illicit financial dealings to private spy networks to document destruction—is not so much reported as it is contextualized (a word we usually hate) by a sympathetic media. The context is sadly predictable: Here’s one more opening for Hillary’s cranky right-wing opponents to go after her.
Newsweek, for instance, recently reported that the largest individual donor to the Clinton Foundation is a shady Ukrainian billionaire who profits off of trade with Iran and may be in violation of U.S. sanctions. Here’s the revealing first sentence of Newsweek’s story: “Enemies of Hillary Clinton waiting to discredit her bid for the White House are likely to seize on news that one of the biggest benefactors to the Clinton Foundation has been trading with Iran.”
Why on earth should such a story be focused not on the scandalous news itself but on whether Hillary Clinton’s supposed “enemies” would use it to discredit her? If she has, in fact, done something wrong or unseemly or inappropriate by taking this money—well, then, she deserves to be discredited.
As far as Hillary’s troubling finances go, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer has a book coming out called Clinton Cash full of reporting that suggests money was being funneled through the Clinton Foundation by donors hoping for favorable treatment while Hillary was running the State Department. The New York Times has dutifully reported Schweizer’s discoveries, but also felt compelled to provide the requisite Democratic party-loyalist context. This is from the first paragraph of the first Times story on Clinton Cash: “The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings ‘big news’ that will ‘shock people’ and make voters ‘question’ the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
In case that didn’t provide ample warning to the Times’s liberal readers, the report goes on to note, “conservative ‘super-PACs’ plan to seize on ‘Clinton Cash,’ and a pro-Democrat super-PAC has already assembled a dossier on Mr. Schweizer, a speechwriting consultant to former President George W. Bush and a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.” Schweizer’s facts aren’t really in question, and he has also pulled no punches in going after GOP congressional corruption in the past, but liberal Times readers have been once again alerted that the bigger picture is that critics might “seize” on these discomforting revelations.
Naturally, all of this signaling is leading liberals to an inevitable conclusion. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy spells it all out under the headline “‘Clinton Cash’ Attacks Could End Up Aiding Hillary.” This, despite the fact that there are so far only a few published revelations from Clinton Cash, Schweizer’s book isn’t out yet, and Cassidy admits he hasn’t read it. Nonetheless, Clinton Cash “could end up benefiting Hillary. With [Fox’s Sean] Hannity and other conservative media figures piling on, the Clinton campaign will be able to portray questions about the Clinton Foundation and the family’s finances as a political witch-hunt rather than a legitimate exercise in vetting presidential candidates,” he writes. Cassidy is suggesting that the GOP is overreaching without even a pretense of weighing what kind of reaction might be warranted to the reporting done by Schweizer.
Apparently the media have uncritically bought into Hillary Clinton’s self-serving fantasy that there’s a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get her. With coverage like this, it’s going to be a long 18 months.
Gleanings and observations.3:28 PM, Apr 8, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
For your further enlightenment, two news stories on page one of last Sunday’s New York Times. One begins a long report on California’s water problems, attributed to a drought rather than bureaucratic mismanagement.
12:25 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Arkansas Senate race, is running an ad highlighting his leadership in trying to fix Washington's broken farm bill legislation. The ad isn't particularly controversial ormaking false claims, in any discernible way and yet "fact checkers" at the Washington Post and PolitiFact have pretty savagely attacked it. Once again, the fact checkers are wrong on the merits. But more than that, there's something very fishy about their Cotton critique.
You can watch the whole ad, but here's the supposedly objectionable claim Cotton makes:
“When President Obama hijacked the farm bill, turned it into a food stamp bill, with billions more in spending, I voted no. Career politicians love attaching bad ideas to good ones. Then the bad ideas become law, and you pay for it.”
As far as legislative sausage-making goes, there are few spectacles more off-putting than Capitol Hill's periodic farm bill extravaganza. The farm subsidies are bad enough on their own, but for decades the bill has also included funding for the unrelated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The result is the worst kind of bipartisanship—rural Republicans compromise on bloating the cost of food stamp funding in exchange for Democratic votes to get their farm subsidies.
10:16 AM, Oct 17, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy is nearly upon us, so one would expect America's public intellectuals to be gearing up to present a series of sober and illuminating reflections about the tragedy's cultural and political legacy.
Of course, that's not going to happen. Any misty-eyed resonance that can be wrung out of JFK's death is already being exploited by our elite media gatekeepers to advance a political agenda.
1:03 PM, Sep 16, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
A new USA Today/Pew poll on Obamacare is out today. According to the fine print on the poll, "Three years after President Obama signed his signature health care overhaul, Americans are as negative toward it as they have ever been, and disapproval of the president on the issue has reached a new high."
What inferences can we draw from this poll result? Well, here's the first paragraph of USA Today's write-up on the poll:
9:23 AM, Aug 12, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Republican National Committee says it's putting its money where its mouth is by running paid ads against CNN and NBC over the networks' plans to run a documentary (CNN) and mini-series (NBC) on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election, a spokesman for the RNC says.
It’s only a matter of time before the media are back in the tank. Jun 3, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 36 • By PETER WEHNER
Some conservatives think that the elite media are finally turning on Barack Obama and his administration.
Will the press ever give Obama tough coverage?Jan 14, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 17 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama never disappoints. When the monthly unemployment rate fails to drop, forget it. What’s important is the number of jobs created. But when the rate actually does drop, forget the growth (or lack of it) in jobs. It’s the rate that matters. And don’t blame Obama for the persistence of slow economic growth and high joblessness. That’s the “new normal.” As for the millions of dropouts from the job market, that’s no big deal, hardly worth more than a passing mention.
The left’s long twilight struggle against imaginary bigotry Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By NOEMIE EMERY
Slowly but surely, the toxin of bias is being leached out of American culture, if incrementally and by degrees. A Catholic was elected president in 1960, and since then Catholic nominees and candidates have become commonplace. A Jew was nominated in 2000 for vice president, and was a help to his ticket. In 2004 and 2008 respectively, Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani ran for president, and their names and religions did not become issues.
The media pull out all the stops to reelect the president.
Oct 15, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 05 • By FRED BARNES
The Time cover story last week was headlined “The Mormon Identity.” The cover, featuring Mitt Romney in a stained-glass window, said in smaller type, “What Mitt Romney’s faith tells us about his vision and values.” Newsweek had President Obama on the cover, identifying him as “The Democrats’ Reagan” and heralding the story inside as “What Obama Will Achieve in His Second Term.”
How media fact checkers made themselves of service to the president in the welfare reform debateOct 1, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 03 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Bill Clinton’s address to the Democratic convention is widely seen as a pivotal moment in President Obama’s reelection campaign. It was an undeniably powerful speech, but particularly noteworthy were his remarks about the popular and bipartisan 1996 welfare reform Clinton himself signed into law. As a result of the law, Americans were required to work as a condition of receiving welfare benefits, and could not receive benefits indefinitely. The reform shrank welfare rolls dramatically and remains wildly popular to this day.
11:42 AM, Jul 24, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Last week, reports emerged that Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy had condemned gay marriage. It's no secret that the company is run by devout Christians, but this still caused an uproar.
12:15 PM, Jul 18, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Here's how the Los Angeles Times handled the Romney campaign's critique of Obama's suggestion that business owners "didn't build" their companies:
Romney campaign's attacks on Obama play on 'birther' fears
6:00 AM, Jul 16, 2012 • By JAY COST
Most journalists will swear that, despite the fact they vote Democratic, they treat both sides fairly. Indeed, it is a rare event to read a news article that directly attacks the Republican party or one that praises the Democratic party.
But that does not mean media bias does not exist. It does – its exercise is just subtler than this. And the last two weeks have been a great example of how it operates.