Frank Bruni's latest Sunday Review column for the New York Times certainly sported an intriguing title: "Despicable Us -- Scott Walker, the Media and the 2016 Presidential Campaign." Would Bruni be apologizing on behalf of both his paper and other outlets, forced to retract false criticisms of Wisconsin's GOP governor, a potential 2016 candidate?
No. While the headline promised pungent criticism of press hostility toward Walker and other conservative presidential candidates, Bruni laid out no defense of Walker, made no mention of a partisan press corps. The criticisms directed at his colleagues were simply window dressing, an excuse for Bruni, a White House reporter during the George W. Bush presidency, to take indirect swipes at conservative candidates past and present.
Some excerpts from Bruni's veiled slams from Sunday's edition:
Oh, how we’re hated. And as another presidential race takes shape, that hatred gathers force. Hillary Clinton’s protectors cast us as bloodthirsty raptors intent on finding flaw where none exists. Chris Christie was asked what he’d given up for Lent and said that it would have been The New York Times, but then his priest told him he had to forswear something he’d truly miss.
Scott Walker thinks we’re laying an elaborate trap for him, and after The Washington Post inquired if he regarded President Obama as Christian, he not only punted but also bellowed about “gotcha” questions, griping: “This is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press.”
Dislike? Increasingly? Either he was being charitable or he hasn’t read the polling. The public’s esteem for us has been abysmal for a good long while.
And if we’re honest, we’ve brought much of it on ourselves. We play petty games and barrel down pointless roads.
After warning the press to stop hyping the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, given that Iowa is too rural, "religiously conservative," and "less Hispanic and black" to be truly representative, Bruni warned to stay away from "circus acts" such as....9/11 hero Rudy Giuliani. (Bolds in original):
Don’t buy tickets to circus acts. When someone on the fringes of both the race and serious discourse says something clownish that’s a cry to be noticed, ignore it. This means quitting our addiction to Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, no matter how good they are for readership, ratings and belly laughs.
Apparently Giuliani's recent criticism of Obama has made him persona non grata with Bruni. (Bruni referred to both Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz as "wacko birds" in a 2013 column.) Then he compared those sorts of politicians to bratty toddlers.
We are too often like the parents who attend only to the screeching 3-year-old, plying him with Gummi bears and Goldfish crackers, which simply reward and ratchet up his screams. Meanwhile the virtuous, unexcitable older sibling is ignored, until she wins the Michigan primary and leaves us no choice but a grudging, belated magazine cover.
In extolling the mature, "virtuous" older sister, Bruni may be referring to Hillary Clinton's victory in the disputed Michigan primary in 2008.
Bruni rounded up a few more conservative "horses" "bound...for the political glue factory" before he was done:
Resist glorifying certain horses for the sake of having a horse race. Some are obviously bound, in the end, for the political glue factory. Remember Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain in 2012? Enough said.