Whoever the Republican candidate is for the 2012 election, they should just give up hope now. If the media won’t treat the Republican candidate with the same kid gloves as they treat President Barack Obama, it will just be 2008 all over again.
How hard is it to get the media to treat the Democratic and Republican candidate equally? Trying to get the media to call a fair fight is like the Washington Generals trying to get a referee to blow a whistle when the Harlem Globetrotters commit a foul.
It’s not going to happen.
Just ask the recently departed captain of the Washington Generals (aka the former Captain of the Republican Presidential Candidates) Donald Trump.
When Donald Trump feigned the idea of entering the 2012 campaign he was immediately indicted by the media as being a racist, a draft dodger, and a crook. Geez, what happened to the days when presidential candidates could just go on the Ellen Show and dance?
Calling Trump a racist simply for being outspoken over the President’s inability to produce a long-form birth certificate is tacky at best and libelous at worst. If Republican nominee John McCain hadn’t received the same treatment in 2008, those playing the race card might have a point. However, not only had McCain been asked the same questions about his birth certificate, news organizations were questionings his citizenship before he secured the Republican nomination:
“McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries …,” Feb. 28, 2008. [NYT]
“McCain’s Panama birth prompts eligibility probe by his campaign,” Feb 29, 2008. [TIMESLONDON]
“Could The Supreme Court Decide Another Election?,” Feb. 28, 2008. [CBSNEWS]
“McCain’s Birth Abroad Stirs Legal Debate,” May 1, 2008. [WASHPOST]
“Was McCain born in the USA?,” May 12, 2008. [POLITFACT]
“Does McCain have a Birth Certificate Problem?,” Feb. 28, 2008. [WSJ]
The most ironic thing about the media vetting McCain’s birthplace was that many of the articles suggest that questions about a candidate’s birthplace are entirely legitimate. Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University was one of those people: “I do think it’s a legitimate issue,” she reported to PolitFact on May 12, 2008, in reference to questions about McCain’s US citizenship.
But once the same line of questioning was directed at Obama, the media rejected it outright, often insinuating that the person asking to see the birth certificate was racist, while framing the subject matter as the stuff of conspiracy nuts.
Just consider the media’s compulsive use of the word “birther.”
Birthers, if you didn’t know, are described by the Asheville Citizen-Times as people who are “morons — jack—-s, imbeciles, idiots and doofuses.” Most commonly, “birther” is used as a pejorative by the media to discredit anybody questioning Obama’s citizenship.
Trump didn’t put up much of a fight about being a birther, but being called a racist infuriated him. Who can blame him? The LA Times alone associated Trump with racism in at least five different articles, spanning from the time when Trump looked like a viable candidate until May 16 when he decided he would not run for president.
They held Obama to a different standard in 2008.
When it came to Obama’s 20 year relationship with Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who made truly racist statements from his pulpit as the leader of Obama’s church, the LA Times ran one article “Obama stands his ground on race” on March 19, 2008. The article allowed Obama to distance himself from the incendiary quotes, while portraying “O” as a heroic leader willing to tackle the topic of race “head-on.”
Trump bows out
As Trump did well in initial polls, many in the media dug in deeper, looking for more things to drive down his approval ratings with conservatives.
Unfortunately for Trump, they hit pay dirt when the website the Smoking Gun released documents that portrayed Trump’s use of deferments as the equivalent of “draft dodging” the Vietnam War.
ABC, CBS, NBS, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Politico, and many other media outlets quickly ran with the story, gleefully labeling Trump a draft dodger to go along with their weekly cycle of “Trump is a birther” and “Trump is a racist” articles.
By comparison, the media was indifferent about Obama’s registration with Selective Services. Obama wasn’t even asked about it until Sep. 8, 2008, two months before the presidential election. Obama’s registration was eventually confirmed by bloggers by using the Freedom of Information Act.
The last straw for Trump, in a preview of what it’s like to oppose “The Media’s Champ,” came at the 2011 Correspondents’ Dinner, when the host for the night Seth Meyers, along with President Obama, bravely spent the night pillorying Trump in front of celebrities, reporters, and other beltway insiders influential enough to score an invite. Trump’s embarrassing night (one in which he couldn’t defend himself) was celebrated by the media as the highlight of the entire event.
Trump had tested the waters of the 2012 election, thinking naively that his personal celebrity might inoculate him from the “Sarah Palin treatment” which consists of being tarred and feathered on a daily basis until you go away.
Surprised to find that his hair-do was being vetted harder than President Obama’s association with admitted terrorist Bill Ayers ever had (in addition to everything else he endured) Trump decided not to run for President.
Knowing that the same treatment from the media is likely in store for whichever Republican candidate begins to lead in the polls helps explain why many top flight Republicans like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey have no desire to oppose Obama in 2012.
And unless the media’s attitude changes, or Congress passes a bill outlawing the use of Teleprompters — the technological wellspring of Obama’s power over many Americans — maybe Republicans should just live to fight in 2016.