The coverage of the current Democratic primaries oozes with a quality of charity and brotherhood, with the kind of gentleness that is found among friends or political allies. With a few robust exceptions (Howard Dean's attempt to channel Mr. T), the daily and nightly TV coverage has been mostly obsessed with the horse race at the expense of serious discussion of important political issues.
Someone might claim that the conservatives should be delighted with the lack of bias, all the neutrality in tone, as Dan Rather asks short, sweet campaign-pamphlet questions such as "What's the basic Wesley Clark message in this campaign?" But this is Standard Operating Procedure for the media during the Democratic primaries. When Republican primaries are ongoing, the media are positively obsessed with intolerant, hateful, "anti-choice" right-wingedness. Only when a GOP candidate campaigns against the conservative movement will he garner piles of positive press (See: McCain, John.)
To find real media scrutiny of the Democrats on the campaign trail, usually you have to flip over to cable news. In the last debate before New Hampshire voted, which aired live on Fox News Channel, ABC anchor Peter Jennings earned a star on his forehead for asking some firm questions. He calmly asked Al Sharpton to explain his philosophy on nominating governors to the Federal Reserve Board, and Sharpton collapsed like a 10-year-old kid whose dog allegedly ate the homework. He also asked General Wesley Clark about his endorsement by radical-left filmmaker Michael Moore, whose relation to the truth cannot be found on any genealogical chart.
Jennings asked Clark: Since Moore stood on a stage next to you and declared that he can't wait for the debate between "the General and the deserter," why didn't you disassociate yourself from that characterization of President Bush? For emphasis, Jennings added that this is a "reckless charge not supported by the facts." Clark made a fool of himself in response, suggesting that Moore's typical truth-mangling is somehow independent of his candidacy and had nothing do to with his campaign. Worse yet, when tough Tim Russert pressed him repeatedly the next Sunday on "Meet the Press" to condemn Moore's remarks, Clark continued to claim ignorance, that he'd "never looked into those" wild allegations.
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