From the start of the Republican race in 2011, every candidate who took the lead took an unfair beating. They even slimed Sarah Palin in case she decided to run. Martin Bashir announced she was "vacuous, crass, and, according to almost every biographer, vindictive, too." Newsweek mocked Michele Bachmann on its cover, making her look pale, confused and nutty, with the headline "The Queen of Rage." Politico and other media outlets tried to pin sexual harassment claims on Herman Cain without naming, or even knowing the accusers. The Washington Post killed trees to report in earth-shaking depth how the Rick Perry family had leased a hunting property where once the N-word was painted on a rock. Never mind that it was the Rick Perry family that covered it with white paint. Chris Matthews smeared Newt Gingrich by saying "He looks like a car bomber ... He looks like he loves torturing." Matthews thought Newt was also polluting the civil discourse. "Ever since he appeared on the national scene, politics has been nastier, more feral, too often uglier."
Then late in the cycle came the dark horse, Rick Santorum. He emerged and was slaughtered. Former New York Times editor Bill Keller sneered, he "sounds like he's creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law."
The only one who seemed to miss his own special episode of When Journalists Attack was Mitt Romney. But when he emerged as the nominee, all bets were off. The Washington Post published a 5,400-word "expose" documenting the shocking revelation that teenaged Romney just may have pinned a boy down and cut his hair. In 1965.
To be sure, The Washington Post did publish a historical piece on Obama's high school career, as well. Exactly a month after its Romney-Running-With-Scissors article, it devoted 5,500 words in the Sports section to an excerpt of David Maraniss's new biography with the headline "President Obama's Love for Basketball Can be Traced Back to His High School Team."
Despite the news media's infatuation with him, Obama rarely reciprocated. He reduced to a trickle the media's access by minimizing the number of White House press conferences. He hasn't called one since June. Instead, he hopscotched from one flippantly unserious interview to another, from Leno to Letterman, from "The View" to "Access Hollywood." When Obama did consent to interviews with "news" shows, it was more of the same, with embarrassing fawn-a-thons from Charlie Rose at CBS and Brian Williams at NBC.