The media's Obama double standard, cont'd

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

This, the-media-is-always-tough-on-new-presidents talking point is pretty much everywhere now. Howard Kurtz hit it this morning, and former New York Times reporter Judy Miller hit it on Fox News today:

They are inevitably are going to turn on him, as all - this happened to every administration. I don't see why we should be surprised. It is the natural turn of events.

It happens all the time, Miller stressed. The professionally skeptical press always holds new administrations accountable. It always breaks in the White House newbie by hounding him with tough questions.

Except, of course, when the press does not.

When the Democrats last arrived in Washington, D.C. with a new president in early 1993, the press absolutely greeted him with tough questions; questions that, within a matter of days, morphed into open hostility, where they pretty much stayed for eight years as the press and the Democratic White House waged an endless war.

Don't take our word for it. This was the Los Angeles Times headline for a 1993 story that examined Clinton's early press coverage: "NOT EVEN GETTING A 1ST CHANCE; EARLY COVERAGE OF THE PRESIDENT SEEMED MORE LIKE AN AUTOPSY. WHITE HOUSE MISSTEPS AND AGGRESSIVE MEDIA PURSUIT NEVER ALLOWED CLINTON THE CUSTOMARY HONEYMOON."

By contrast, at the dawn of 2001, a new Republican president arrived in Washington and the press absolutely did not greet him with tough questions. Instead, a blanket of calm seemed to cover Beltway newsrooms.

So when mainstream media watchers today like Kurtz and Miller insist the press always plays hardball with the new president, recent history suggest they're only half right.

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