Does the media treat hypocrites of differing political preferences similarly? The evidence would suggest not. When noted Christian televangelist Jim Bakker was found to have committed adultery and mail fraud back in 1986, the national media were beside themselves with glee, running hundreds of stories about Bakker's hypocrisy. The same pattern repeated itself with other Christian evangelists, including George W. Bush supporter Ted Haggard in 2006, a case that Wikipedia admits "may have affected voting patterns in the 2006 elections". The media made sure to feature the haggard case as a front-page story during the run-up[ to the election, probably hoping (correctly as it turned out) that it would help the Democrats take control of Congress. However, the shoe is now on the other foot.
Famed left-wing radio personality Bernie Ward of San Francisco, a former priest who had one of the loudest and most consistently anti-George W. Bush voices in the entire nation, was found guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography on Friday and will serve at least five years in prison. ward tried to argue that he was "doing research" on child pornography, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reported:
His hopes of maintaining a defense based on a constitutional right to research taboo subjects appeared to be weakened further when police in Oakdale (Stanislaus County) released transcripts in February of a series of online sex chats between Ward and a dominatrix in December 2004 and January 2005. The transcripts quote Ward as fantasizing about naked children with no apparent reference to any subject he was researching. Police said he had sent photos to the woman that showed children engaged in sexual activity.
To their credit, the Chronicle reported the affair on Page A-1 of the Friday edition, and they have actually done a fairly good job of following the case throughout, though they did give much more time to Ward's law3yer to argue for his client's innocence than they gave to the prosecutors- Ward's lawyer is quoted or paraphrased a number of times; the prosecutors not at all. My question is simple- Ward has been a leading anti Iraq and anti-George W. Bush voice, who has been found to be as flawed as any of the more conservative ministers who preceded him in scandal. Will the national media treat him the same? Ward has preached to an audience in the same manner, though from a different viewpoint, as did Bakker, Falwell, etc. If the media is truly objective, they will cover this fall from grace as assiduously as they did with Bakker, Haggard and the others they have gleefully observed succumb to their flaws. Thus, I did a search for 'Bernie Ward' on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. MSNBC< CBS and CNN had nothing on the scandal. ABC ran a single story that presented Ward as a victim who had "run afoul" of the government laws. Isn't that the same as breaking the law? ABC seems not to know the difference when it concerns liberals. Meanwhile, the supposedly conservative Fox ran a brief report of Ward's guilty plea, not siding with either party. It seems that only Fox and ABC felt this qualified as news, and ABC did their best to present Ward as a victim, not the criminal that he has admitted he is. So as much as I would like to believe that this will be front-page news in the national media, I won't hold my breath. Cross-posted on StoneHeads.