Even fair-minded liberals, of which there must be a few, should acknowledge that the Saturday-Sunday "blitz" of the Republican presidential candidates by ABC and NBC correspondents looked like a play designed by the left wing of the Democratic Party.
Clearly the questions by ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer about contraception and same-sex marriage were asked to trap the GOP candidates into delivering sound bites that the Obama re-election campaign could use against the eventual nominee and the party at large. These were the types of accusatory questions that would never be asked of a Democratic president. One would not expect to hear, for example, a question like this to President Obama: "Mr. President, millions of babies have been legally aborted in this country since 1973; how can you so callously dismiss unborn children, many of whom would now be productive, taxpaying citizens, by taking a pro-choice stance on abortion?"
This is how it works: if you are a journalist who clearly favors the re-election of President Obama, you ask questions of Republicans in an effort to make them look foolish, forcing them to address subjects other than the economy and threats to national security. When you question Democrats, you ask questions people care most about and usually allow the answer, however inaccurate, to go unchallenged.
During last Sunday's NBC News/Facebook debate on "Meet the Press," the conservative Media Research Center (mrc.org) found that, "Out of the 41 questions directed to the six Republican presidential candidates..., 25 of them were from the left, 13 questions were neutral, mainly about the campaign horse race and electability, and only three questions pressed the candidates from the right."
On "60 Minutes" last month, correspondent Steve Kroft delivered this fat softball to President Obama: "Since the midterm elections, you made an effort at bipartisanship. It hasn't worked out that way. ... You gave up a lot. You said you wanted a balanced approach. You didn't get it. You cut a trillion dollars and set up the framework to cut another trillion plus, and the Republicans gave up nothing. I mean, there are people in your own party who think that you were outmaneuvered, that you were stared down by John Boehner and Grover Norquist and capitulated. ... It seems to be all the compromising is being done by you..."
And so it goes in every modern election cycle. To the mainstream media, Republicans are pigheaded and unwilling to compromise with a Democratic president (or a Democratic Congress). That's because in media-land, only Democrats want what is best for "real Americans." Get it? MSNBC has apparently suspended conservative Pat Buchanan because that network doesn't like his "biases," but Democratic biases are just fine with management.
None of this will change as long as liberals continue to dominate major media.
Instead of complaining, which changes nothing, Republicans should run the equivalent of a Tebow option play. They should refuse to participate in any more dog-and-pony shows designed to trip them up. Instead, they should create their own panels with an ideological mix of interrogators.
Invite a couple of "wild card" conservative partisans like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to add to the journalistic mix. If the "Miss America" contest could invite Limbaugh as a judge in 2010, why can't the Republican presidential candidates invite him, or Hannity, to judge and question them? The ratings would be huge and the public would get better answers to more substantive questions than the "gotcha" questions they must now endure.
Perhaps it's too late for this election cycle, but maybe not. All it would take is one such event and the public will instantly see what it's been missing. After that there would likely be no turning back.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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