If we rigidly applied truth-in-advertising laws to the national media in their coverage of the 2006 campaign, we would have first declared that the stuff between the commercials wasn't "news" as much as a boatload of free infomercial advertising for the Democrats. The news reports should have led with the sentence, "I'm Nancy Pelosi, and I approved this newscast."
Republicans made a lot of mistakes and caused themselves a pile of problems. Their house is a mess -- it's time to tear down and start over. But I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news -- and non-news -- by the national media. They ought to be collectively ashamed. They have made a mockery out of the term "objective journalism" and a laughingstock of themselves at the idea that they should be considered objective journalists.
They distorted the record time and again with a blame-everything-on-Republican-misrule formula. When gas prices approached historic highs over the summer, the media couldn't stop talking about the inept Republicans and failed Bush administration policies. Then, gas prices plummeted. Celebratory coverage? Nah. Any credit to the Republican Party or this administration? None whatsoever. Instead, they -- yes, you CNN; and you, NBC, and you, CBS -- shamelessly advanced Lyndon LaRouche-style conspiracy theories about how Republicans somehow were manipulating gas prices downward in order to get themselves elected. I'd laugh -- except it worked. If I believed a fraction of what I heard from the national news media, I'd vote against Republicans, too.
This was not an election campaign like 1994, when the networks spent weeks exploring how "bombastic and ruthless" Newt Gingrich would burn Washington down with the Contract With America should the GOP capture the House. As horrified as I am by the left-wing agenda of Pelosi, Conyers, Rangel and co., I certainly wouldn't want the press to treat them the way they mistreated Republicans a dozen years ago.
I would have been happy, and America would have been the grateful beneficiary, had the anchors given us an educational exploration of the issues of the day, and the parties' and candidates' stances, instead of the silly dramatics. Did the Democrats have a program beyond their daily carpet-bombing of President Bush? What would happen to -- name the issue -- were they elected?