GORE AND THE PRESS….Evgenia Peretz writes in this month’s Vanity Fair about media coverage of Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign. In the following passage she talks about the often vicious coverage of Gore by Kit Seelye in the New York Times:
As with all campaigns, the coverage of the 2000 election would be driven by a small number of beat reporters. In this case, two women at the most influential newspapers in the country: Seelye from The New York Times and Ceci Connolly from The Washington Post.
A prominent Washington journalist describes them as “edgy, competitive, wanting to make their mark,” and adds that they “reinforced each other’s prejudices.”
….The disparity between [Seelye’s] reporting and [Frank] Bruni’s coverage of Bush for the Times was particularly galling to the Gore camp. “It’s one thing if the coverage is equal — equally tough or equally soft,” says Gore press secretary Chris Lehane. “In 2000, we would get stories where if Gore walked in and said the room was gray we’d be beaten up because in fact the room was an off-white. They would get stories about how George Bush’s wing tips looked as he strode across the stage.” Melinda Henneberger, then a political writer at the Times, says that such attitudes went all the way up to the top of the newspaper. “Some of it was a self-loathing liberal thing,” she says, “disdaining the candidate who would have fit right into the newsroom, and giving all sorts of extra time on tests to the conservative from Texas. Al Gore was a laughline at the paper, while where Bush was concerned we seemed to suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
It’s a pretty good piece. It covers fairly familiar ground for most blog readers, I think, but does a nice job of summarizing Campaign 2000 for magazine readers who haven’t heard all this stuff before. It’s worth revisiting.