Media should be tough on all sides

Published on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 22:19 - Written by

Conservatives have long harbored a feeling that the press is just too easy on President Barack Obama — that many of his statements and actions go unquestioned in the media, when a Republican president wouldn’t get off so lightly.

It’s not just conservatives who feel that way now. The White House itself acknowledges that it gets a free pass from many in the media.

But here’s the thing. Instead of wanting the same easy treatment for conservative candidates and office holders, we should want for the Democrats the same heavy scrutiny the GOP receives.

In other words, the press should treat everyone like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, rather than treating everyone (including Republicans) like Obama.

It was White House spokesman Jay Carney who revealed last week that the president knows he’s had it easy. Carney said in an interview at Georgetown University that Obama’s toughest questions came on a comedy show.

“I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others,” Carney said. “And the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch ‘The Daily Show’ than some other news shows. But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of ‘The Daily Show.’”

That’s quite an indictment of many of his media interviewers.

But conservatives who wish President George W. Bush had received such treatment are misreading the situation. It’s not that the press was too tough on Bush (or Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz or Chris Christie). It’s that the press should be that tough — on everyone.

As conservatives, we should always support more freedom (even of the press), and more accountability. Those are core conservative values.

Sure, the press is harder on Republicans and conservatives. That’s nothing new; remember when CNN was routinely called the “Clinton News Network”?

Many complain that the press is unfair. And often, that is true. But at this point, haven’t we learned to be afraid — very afraid — of the word “unfair”? When the left uses that word, we know to listen closely for a government solution.

Just a few months ago, the FCC proposed some new rules that would have put government monitors in newsrooms, in an effort to ensure “fairness” in what stories are covered, and how they are covered.

Thankfully, the FCC withdrew that proposal after even the most Obama-friendly news organizations protested.

An adversarial press might be uncomfortable for those in positions of power, but as conservatives, we should like that. Finley Peter Dunne, a Chicago newsman, summed up “news philosophy” thus: “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Isn’t that what we should be doing — no matter who is in office?