But ABC's Jake Tapper was the exception to the rule on "Good Morning America" with a full news report that let critics speak. He balanced an anonymous administration spokesman strangely boasting that Ghailani had been "incapacitated" with Rep. Peter King's statement that this "demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama administration's decision to try al-Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts."
At about the same time that the Ghailani fiasco erupted, controversy over the Transportation Security Administration's enhanced pat-downs started to bubble up. Here again, the outrage was usually pitched against the TSA and its administrator ... and not so much against Obama.
On ABC's "Good Morning America" on Nov. 22, Stephanopoulos announced, "The TSA responds to growing outrage from travelers to body searches, including a father whose son had to remove his shirt and the cancer survivor who says he was humiliated."
On the CBS "Early Show," anchor Harry Smith cited "frustrated flyers calling for a boycott over those new invasive security procedures. But will the TSA back down?" On "Today," NBC's Matt Lauer referred to "the latest fallout over those controversial new TSA screening methods at our nation's airports."
ABC and NBC each ran sound bites of Obama calmly instructing the TSA from an assumed political distance that "you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we're doing is the only way to assure the American people's safety."
But the bias went deeper. Lauer now openly sympathized with Obama's TSA fighting off the terrorist threat. Lauer insisted privacy complaints "can be overblown. I'm not going to be the one, and nor can you be, to decide whether people think this is overly invasive or not invasive enough."
You don't need to be a genius to figure out that people think this is overly invasive. But Lauer struck a note of vigilance for "the government" that wasn't seen in the Bush years: "I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point."
What all this underscores is that all of the liberal media's tub-thumping for civil liberties and against Guantanamo sounds a lot less principled and a lot more partisan. Why was it a "gulag" at Gitmo under Bush, and not Obama? Why was Bush "undermining civil liberties," and Obama isn't?