Jonathan Bernstein makes an excellent point today about the cries of “liberal media bias” surrounding the questions asked of prominent Republicans about Rudy Giuliani’s claim that the president doesn’t love America.
[W]e had an almost perfect parallel in the coverage of Howard Dean’s complaint that Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin shouldn’t be president because he didn’t graduate from college.
Giuliani left office in 2001, ran for president in 2008, has since been out of active politics but shows up on TV all the time. Dean left office a year after Giuliani did, ran for president in 2004, was Democratic National Committee chairman through 2008, has since been out of active politics but shows up on TV all the time.
Republicans were forced to take a stand on whether Obama loves America; Democrats were pressed to say if they thought a college dropout was unqualified to be president.
The Giuliani story was bigger only because attacking the president is a bigger deal than attacking one of many Republican presidential candidates, and New York (where much of the national media is based) trumps Vermont.
Both accusations were pretty much denounced by everyone; both sparked predictable partisan bashing and a few interesting reflections.
But liberals didn’t go crying about conservative media bias in the Dean-Walker case because they don’t see every news story as an example of prejudice against them. Conservatives do.
As it happens I complained about the Dean/Walker story, but not in terms of “media bias” but because conservative noise-makers were turning Dean’s comments into an excuse to shriek about–you guessed it–liberal elite biases, including those of the news media. Basically, anything conservatives don’t like it frequently toted up to liberal media bias and, worse yet, made part of elite collusion (if not conspiracy) across a whole range of American institutions.