Anyone remembering the ascent of Newt Gingrich to House speaker in 1995 surely noticed a difference between media coverage of that historic event and Nancy Pelosi taking the gavel back for the Democrats in 2007. One had all the joy of a child's funeral. The other was "New Year's Rockin' Eve."
CNN even had a countdown clock to the Democrats regaining the majority. All that was missing was a lighted crystal donkey that would descend down a pole on the top of the Capitol dome. CNN's Dana Bash called Pelosi's gavel grab a "moment to savor," surely true for her supporters, but the bitterest of pills to swallow for those who worked their hearts out last year to keep Pelosi and her liberal army from retaking the House. CNN left no doubt where it stood on this divide.
The liberal media despised Newt and adore Nancy. They've demonstrated this by the way they played up the Gingrich threat in the weeks after the '94 GOP tsunami, while virtually ignoring Pelosi and her radical agenda for the last two months.
Their response to Gingrich was swift, intense and severe. Their reaction to Pelosi was pleased -- but noticeably restrained. Gingrich was portrayed as an extremist threat to everything near and dear to Americans. The arrival of the San Francisco ultraliberal is apparently business as it should be, the natural order of a reasonable and civilized society.
Newsweek featured the infamous cartoonish holiday cover at the end of 1994, titled, "How the Gingrich Stole Christmas!" But Newsweek has yet to publish a Nancy Pelosi cover. Time pictured Gingrich on its cover as a red, white and blue menace, with the words: "Uncle Scrooge: 'Tis the season to bash the poor. But is Newt Gingrich's America really that heartless?" Time has also published no Pelosi cover. Time's idea of a tough Pelosi piece after the Democrat victory was an article by her daughter Alexandra describing how much her mother and President Bush have in common. What ultraliberal San Francisco Democrat?
CBS attacked Gingrich with poetry on its program "Sunday Morning." CBS anchor Charles Osgood's poem also began with the theme "How the Gingrich Stole Christmas." The anchor-poet charged, "He'd even take kiddies away from their mamas." In fact: "The Gingrich said things that the Whos thought were shocking. He'd take back each present and empty each stocking." (On another "Sunday Morning" show, CBS commentator John Leonard suggested the new conservatives in Congress were a "slash-and-burn Khmer Rouge.")
I may have missed it, but I'm fairly certain CBS hasn't compared Pelosi liberals to any mass-murdering communist regime. Nor did CBS offer any weekend poetry for Pelosi. In fact, in one Saturday morning report, CBS correspondent Joie Chen couldn't even find liberalism anywhere, just progress. She's a "milestone" as the first female speaker of the House, basking in a "landmark" moment, and "she has a history of crashing barriers." She was the only daughter in a Baltimore political family who "recalls a determined little sister." Her brother insisted she was a "trailblazer."
Was she a threat? Apparently, only if you were a meanie. Chen concluded that "she vows to use her mother-of-five voice to keep unruly politicians in line." For CBS, Gingrich was a horror flick, and still is, while Pelosi is a heart-warming Hallmark movie of the week.
Pelosi is just our First Female, and the Honorable Speaker/Grandma. What about her political agenda? To listen to the media, Pelosi's extreme liberalism is merely a fiction painted by Republicans. It doesn't actually exist.
On NBC's "Today" show, co-host Meredith Vieira approached swearing-in day with undisguised joy at the Pelosi takeover. "I'm excited, as a woman, to see that happen." It nicely matched then-NBC co-host Katie Couric greeting Pelosi's arrival as minority leader in 2002 with a "You go, girl!" on NBC's airwaves. But could you imagine that much joy if the first female speaker had been a Republican? Or even just a pro-lifer?
All this joy was quite a contrast to swearing-in day in 1995. Some of us cannot forget the "Today" hysterics from Bryant Gumbel. In an interview with minority leader Dick Gephardt, he asked: "You called Gingrich and his ilk, your words, 'trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion and fear.' Do you think middle-class Americans are in need of protection from that group?"
The worst part of all of this is that reporters in the dawn of 1995 actually believed Gingrich and his ilk were receiving fair coverage. Isn't that what they always claim? (ABC's John Cochran even dared to say Gingrich received "very positive press.") Apparently, it was and is fair to compare Republicans to terrorists and mass murderers. One wonders what they would say if allowed to deliver their unrestrained opinions.