Pity the media. After years of sexy and fascinating scandals committed by Republicans in power, now they are being forced — FORCED I tell you — to report on the exceedingly dull peccadilloes of Democrats. That’s what Sara K. Smith of NBC (Wonkette Division), would have us believe.
This is remarkable honesty from Smith. Few journalists have been so blunt — if unintentionally so — about their ironclad double standard for political indiscretions.
Rep. Mark Foley had some illicit instant message conversations with a male page (but no physical contact, by all accounts), and that was worthy of headline status in the “culture of corruption” that brought down GOP control of Congress. Rep. Barney Frank paid a male prostitute for sex, then let said prostitute run a house of ill repute out of his apartment. For this, Frank was reprimanded and became Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, lauded as the “smartest guy in Congress,” a “maestro” in charge of fixing the banking system (after he spent the last decade driving it to ruin).
Need another one? Sen. Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was treated to thousands of dollars of home repairs by a wealthy contributor, likely in exchange for favorable earmarks. He was indicted, convicted, told that he would not be re-seated if he won re-election, then lost his election to a virtual unknown. Throughout, he was torched (appropriately) by the media for unconscionable public corruption. Almost simultaneously, it became apparent that Sen. Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was given incredibly favorable terms (likely saving him thousands of dollars) on his home mortgage because he was a “friend of Angelo.” “Angelo” was Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, the largely-discredited subprime lender that was regulated by Sen. Dodd’s committee. Funny thing, Dodd was a staunch defender of lenders like Countrywide. But I am unable to find any article or editorial where he has been called upon to resign either his seat or his chairmanship by any major media outlet. Nor has he been deemed unfit to shepherd the financial industry through one of its roughest periods in the nation’s history. Rather, he was given an open mic to take Republicans to task for not going along with his vision for the bailout. Because his last vision for the industry worked out so well.
Congressman Bill Jefferson caught on video in an FBI sting with $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer? Indicted for crimes totaling 235 years in prison? Many media seemed more outraged with the raid itself than his apparent crimes, and I was unable to find a single major newspaper editorial calling for him to resign, nor taking him to task when he refused to. Compare that to the scorn rained down upon Republican Congressmen Bob Ney and Duke Cunningham, both of whom plead guilty and resigned from Congress after unseemly pay-for-play schemes were uncovered. Again, I’m glad that these men are no longer in Congress, and the derision they received was well-deserved. But where’s the hate for the Democrat, who was first discovered to be on the take in 2006, was re-elected, and almost won again before the voters of his district ended the farce? (Oh, and by the way, he only lost because the white voters in his district are racists.)
We know virtually everything about the bathroom stall where Larry Craig danced his seductive two-step. But how many reporters have given us the detailed dish about the curtains in House tax-writer-in-chief Charlie Rangel’s four rent-controlled pads in Harlem? Or the patio furniture at his $1,000+ per night tax-free vacation villa in Punta Cana? Or the view from his former property in Sunny Isles, Florida, which he may have sold for $500,000 more than he reported? Or the rebounding neighborhood around his former home in Washington, D.C., which sale he failed to report in its entirety? (To the New York Times’ credit, it has encouraged Rangel to step down from his chairmanship while these allegations are investigated)
Not the nationwide mainstream media, but why would they? These scandals, they’re, ugh, so relentlessly banal. Who could possibly care if the guy who wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion has dodged his own tax bill for decades? No one will ever buy a newspaper that tells the cloak-and-dagger tale of an FBI investigation that found cold cash in a politician’s kitchen, just after he took the funds for a bribe. And the only way to describe the public’s reaction to a story of Senators making policy on the basis of contributions (and personal gain) is utter ennui.
Well, at least one Democratic politician was kind enough to be spectacular in his corruption. Ride it for all you can, men and women of the media. Just don’t mention he’s a Democrat. Until you can come up with a reason to ignore it altogether.