Political reporters think Americans are uneducated and easy to command. They think TV viewers will buy the Crayola-crayon notion that John Edwards is a Southerner, therefore he is a "moderate."
Do these people with the advanced degrees in international affairs and pancake makeup techniques really think they don't have to update their political notions beyond 1964? Any journalist who had five minutes on his hands to determine the ideology of Sen. Edwards would learn he has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of ... 50? 40? Nope. Try 12. Even the liberal Americans for Democratic Action has him rated at 81 percent liberal, voting with the Left four out of every five votes.
But no reporter wanted to describe Edwards as a "liberal." When the news came out, it was all hosannas. ABC's Dan Harris touted his regional appeal: "With his Southern accent and son-of-a-mill-worker biography, he may very well appeal to rural voters who the Democrats badly need." CBS reporter Byron Pitts oozed: "with a style as syrupy as Carolina sweet tea, Edwards could also help in the South." NBC's Carl Quintanilla added "John Kerry both formalized Edwards' rock star status and answered Democrats' demands too loud to ignore." They all obsessed on style, and no one wanted to assess the substance of his voting record or even his presidential campaign statements from earlier this year.
That might seem a little strange to anyone who remembers all the way back to 2000, when the addition of Dick Cheney to the Republican ticket was greeted by the media with warnings. Beware, very ideological candidate approaching! ABC's Linda Douglass said he was one of the "most conservative" members of Congress. CBS's Bill Whitaker branded Cheney as a "rock-solid conservative who manages to appeal to party moderates." On NBC, Tom Brokaw called Cheney a "hard-core Republican with stellar conservative credentials."
Then the TV fact-twisters went into great detail on Cheney's voting record, or at least into great exaggeration. ABC's Sam Donaldson asked him why he wouldn't vote to give more money to poor, needy senior citizens. CBS claimed he voted against releasing South Africa's Nelson Mandela from prison in the 1980s, as if Congress could have voted him out of jail. NBC went even deeper into the past, saying Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, that old feminist manifesto.