Hillary Clinton has no right to complain that her friends and flatterers in the media are rough on her. But when the Clintons hit rough passages on the road to victory, this is what the Clintons do: complain. That's too meek: They whine.
But she obviously feels wronged by the news media when her polls begin to slip and she looks at her Barack Obama's worshipful press clips. In fairy-tale terms, Obama is Snow White and Hillary is the vain and wicked queen peering into the mirror and demanding to know, "Who is the fairest one ofall?"
She can easily come to a boil over Time's Obama cover on the Dec. 10 issue, where Obama stands in a heroic pose with arms folded, surrounded by a glow that makes him look like a saintly icon. She can wince as he's cast as both a greater force for idealism and target of discrimination while she's merely part of "machine" politics. On ABC, morning anchor Chris "Son of Mario" Cuomo asked Obama, "What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racism?"
In other words, America doesn't deserve glowing Saint Barack -- unless, of course, we all vote for him to demonstrate eagerly and apologetically that we reject our inherent prejudices. But this is where we go back to the underlying silliness of Hillary's whining that any Democrat would complain that they face a fierce media stuffed with Cuomos, Russerts, Stephanopouloses and other former Democratic aides and family members.
Hillary's complain of a harsh media microscope appeared in The Washington Post on Dec. 19. Media reporter Howard Kurtz used Time editor-at-large Mark Halperin to act as Hillary's unofficial press secretary. "She's just held to a different standard in every respect," sulked Halperin. "The press rooted for Obama to go negative, and when he did, he was applauded. When she does it, it's treated as this huge violation of propriety." While Clinton's mistakes deserve full coverage, Halperin says, "the press's flaws -- wild swings, accentuating the negative -- are magnified 50 times when it comes to her. It's not a level playing field."
When conservatives make a case for media bias to a liberal, it's important (in fact, it's absolutely imperative) that they deliver factual evidence examples -- quotes, studies, surveys, you name it. (And it's never enough in the eyes of the press.) But if you're a liberal, particularly a liberal in the media, and you want to accuse the press of tacking left, it's acceptable just to pull wild figures out of the air. Her flaws are "magnified 50 times"? What media outlet is he following? Or is he reading someone else's talking points?
Halperin is talking as a media insider. He's complaining not simply about what's appeared in the media but what he thinks is his colleagues' collective mood. The idea that Hillary's treated as if she'd ever committed a "huge violation of propriety" might be something that liberals debate inside their newsrooms or at the corner bar, but it's not something a voter has seen this year in the "mainstream" press. It simply isn't there.
Halperin accuses his colleagues of choosing sides. "Your typical reporter has a thinly disguised preference that Barack Obama be the nominee. The narrative of him beating her is better than her beating him, in part because she's a Clinton and in part because he's a young African American. There's no one rooting for her to come back."
Newsday reporter Glenn Thrush was not amused and quickly blogged that Halperin was imagining things. "Who's the 'typical' reporter? As a card-carrying Typical who spends more time with Hillary Rodham Clinton than (with) his family, I have never heard a print or broadcast reporter in the trenches express a preference for Obama -- overt, thinly or thickly disguised, or otherwise."
Kurtz did not tell the reader that Halperin's ardor about a Hillary-betraying media might be due to his connections to the Clintons. Most Americans first learned of Halperin as the ABC producer who slipped George Stephanopoulos a copy of Clinton's "thank you for saving me from the draft" letter in 1992, helping keep Clinton's draft-dodging past from sinking his campaign.
Most Americans don't know that Mark Halperin is the son of ultraliberal Morton Halperin, who not only served in Bill Clinton's administration but helped found the Center for American Progress, Hillary's think tank and government in exile. He's now second-in-command there. Halperin's brother David also worked in the Clinton administration, and also works now at the Center for American Progress. Knowing these things makes it easier to judge the motivation behind his wild accusations.