You can just feel the media's euphoria over lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to fleecing clients and throwing goodies at legislators. Overnight, Rush Limbaugh could play an audio montage of various anchors and pundits proclaiming it was the biggest scandal to hit Washington in decades. Everywhere you turned, it was "huge," of "historic proportions." Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz called it "potentially delicious." The joy was reminiscent of old Post editor Ben Bradlee's line about Iran-Contra: "We haven't had this much fun since Watergate."
This scandal is big -- no questions about that. But by what measure is this story so huge and historic? How does it compare to the House Bank scandal of 1992, which resulted in a number of congressional careers ended? How does Abramoff compare to the related mess at the House Post Office, which led to the eventual conviction of House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski?
There was no glee in the newsrooms then, when it was Democrats.
When Speaker Jim Wright was forced out in 1989 for dozens upon dozens of ethical violations? "Mindless cannibalism," Wright called it, and they agreed. When Majority Whip Tony Coelho scooted away behind Wright, the media mourned America's loss.
How does Casino-gate, or whatever we're going to call this one, compare to the Asian fundraising scandal of 1996? No one mentioned that, either. Investor's Business Daily published a very informative graphic showing that 22 foreign figures and Democrat activists plugging away for Clinton-Gore and Democratic candidates were convicted by the federal probe of that scandal. (And that figure does not include the people that fled the country rather than testify.) How is the Abramoff plea already bigger than that?
As expected, Democrats and their gaggle of supportive bloggers are claiming it's outrageous for anyone to suggest that Jack Abramoff could be connected to Democrats. They argue that because Abramoff was Republican and the majority of his funding went to Republicans, the discussion should end there. After all, the GOP is the Party of Corruption, is it not?
The very idea that Howard Dean & Co. think they can suggest to the public that it is Republicans who represent a "culture of corruption," and not the party of the Clintons, Rosty, and Wright, is an exercise in self-delusion -- or outright fabrication.
Last week, yet another old Democratic fundraising scandal emerged again, with barely a peep from the liberal media. The Associated Press sent out a squib of an article by reporter Devlin Barrett. The news? Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate committee agreed to pay a $35,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for under-reporting the cost of a Hollywood fundraiser by more than $720,000. This is no tiny boo-boo in oversight. In fact, understating the fundraiser's budget was essential to enable Hillary to hoard more "hard money" dollars in the late months of the campaign. To an ethical midget, the game was clear: cheat now, win the seat, pay a tiny fine later, and watch the liberal media whisper right past it.
Hillary Clinton is constantly touted as our next president, and it's going to be amusing watching this cattle-futures bribe-taker running against a "culture of corruption." But just as her husband could look straight into a TV camera and lie through his teeth, so, too, will Hillary pounce on rhetoric that is one part disingenuous and two parts hypocritical. She'll do it because no one in the Run, Hillary, Run media club will expose her.
How was Hillary's Hollywood-party fine covered? On Jan. 6, The Washington Post just carried the 325-word AP dispatch inside the paper. The New York Times gave it little more than 100 words on page B-4 in a "Metro Briefs" section. It was buried even further still as story number six in that column. Nothing emerged on ABC. Or CBS. Or NBC. Or NPR. (CNN mentioned it briefly on "American Morning," right before its brief item on the "Bubble Gum Bandit.") USA Today, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News? Nothing.
Dave Pierre at Newsbusters.org had some fun exploring the bias by omission at the Los Angeles Times. This paper had no Hillary story, but on Jan. 6, it did carry 2,315 words in two articles on NBC's liberal "Book of Daniel" premiere, 1,431 words on liberal Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars, 182 words on Pat Robertson's bizarre Ariel Sharon remarks, and another 1,477 words (starting on Page One) on the decline in the popularity of tennis. Pierre was especially wincing over this factoid: The offending Hillary fundraiser was held in Hollywood, smack-dab on the paper's stomping grounds.
But let it not be said that the Los Angeles Times doesn't cover corruption. The day before, the front page carried a big, long Abramoff story with a tiny mention of Hillary Clinton's Abramoff connection.