The mainstream media is of course replete with liberal opinionistas who criticize Republicans far more harshly than Democrats. That is nothing new. It is truly shocking, however, when supposedly "objective" news outlets employ even more egregious double standards than the openly-biased commentators.
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto caught the Associated Press employing one such double standard over the weekend. The AP's Ben Feller penned quite a sob story about the president's response to the Gulf spill, saying that Obama is "having to work through unforeseen problems" and made sure to note that his "ability to calmly handle many competing issues simultaneously is viewed as one of his strengths."
A contrast with the AP's rheotroic on the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina reveals quite a discrepany in the organization's views on the executive's accountability for natural disasters. That New York Times columnist Frank Rich and uber-liberal mudslinger Bill Maher have both had harsher words for the current president and his response to the Gulf spill speaks volumes.
Feller wrote on Saturday,
President Barack Obama keeps reassuring the nation that stopping the Gulf oil spill and limiting the fallout on the region are his top priority.
Yet so is protecting the country against attack. And getting people back to work.
Presidencies usually don't allow for a dominant priority--just a list of priorities. . . .
Like presidents before him, Obama is having to work through unforeseen problems: offshore drilling and an environmental disaster, mine safety, the earthquake in Haiti, piracy off the Somali coast. . . .
Obama's ability to calmly handle many competing issues simultaneously is viewed as one of his strengths.
He has tried to let everyone know that what's unfolding in the Gulf is more than a momentary crisis. The spill, he said Friday from Grand Isle, La., is nothing less than "an assault on our shores, on our people, on the regional economy, and on communities like this one."
The president is also fond of saying he will not rest until the problem at hand gets fixed. The trouble is that there's always more trouble.
Keep in mind, this was not a column or an opinion piece. And neither were these two ledes, which Taranto recalls from the AP's archives:
WASHINGTON (AP)--The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent's identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn't match the public's view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.
WASHINGTON (AP)--The fatally slow response to Hurricane Katrina unleashed a wave of anger that could transform people's expectations of government, the qualities they seek in political leaders and their views of America's class and racial divides. It's a huge opportunity that neither party seems poised to exploit.
In fact, Maher and Rich, two of the left's most partisan commentators, have expressed criticisms of Obama that sound more like the AP's treatment of President Bush than President Obama.
Obama's news conference on Thursday--explaining in detail the government's response, its mistakes and its precise relationship to BP--was at least three weeks overdue. It was also his first full news conference in 10 months. Obama's recurrent tardiness in defining exactly what he wants done on a given issue--a lapse also evident in the protracted rollout of the White House's specific health care priorities--remains baffling, as does his recent avoidance of news conferences. Such diffidence does not convey a J.F.K.-redux in charge of a neo-New Frontier activist government.
Of course he also found plenty of conservatives to blame, NB's Noel Sheppard noted. But, as Taranto quips, "if Obama has lost Frank Rich, he's lost Middle America."
Meanwhile, Bill Maher descended into a bizarre tirade, equal parts racism and populism (well, maybe a bit more of the former), in criticizing Obama. He said on "Real Time,"
I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That's--"we've got a m-----f---ing problem here?"--and shoot somebody in the foot.
"Those who've been desperately searching for racism in criticism of Obama have finally found it," writes Taranto.