Over the weekend, Digby highlighted Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank's bewilderment that he continues to get complaints from liberal readers despite the fact that President Bush has been replaced by President Obama.
It shouldn't really be that hard to understand. Dana Milbank is not the personification of the White House. If he was, you might expect him to received fewer complaints from liberals now that Bush is gone. But Dana Milbank is a journalist; the complaints he get are likely in response to his journalism.
As Digby noted:
It doesn't seem to occur to Milbank that "the left" might just not like the snotty, juvenile, shallow kind of journalism he practices, no matter who is in office. If they're mad at his reporting whether it's Bush or Obama, does it not occur to him that it might be him and not them?
Digby's post reminded me of Jake Tapper's defensiveness in response to criticism from liberals that the media was paying too much attention to an iPod given by President Obama to the Queen of England. Tapper posted the following defense on his Twitter page:
for angry libs complaining about the iPod story: who do you think is sharing this info about the iPod? u think we broke into buckingham?
Tapper seemed to be suggesting that Obama aides were the ones "sharing this info about the iPod" with reporters, so liberals shouldn't criticize the media for obsessing over it. Here's what I wrote at the time:
I can't speak for all "angry libs," but what Tapper seems not to understand is that few, if any, liberal media critics think the media should simply report anything handed to them on a presidential spoon - even if the president in question is a Democrat.
This attitude isn't unique to Tapper. I've seen more than a few journalists respond to criticism from progressives by saying something similar - that their report reflects what Democratic sources told them. That's a valid response when the criticism is that the report omitted a Democratic viewpoint. But when the criticism is that the report is false, or flawed in some other way, "hey, we're just reporting what Democrats tell us" isn't a meaningful defense.
What neither Milbank nor Tapper seems to understand is that the criticism they are getting from liberals is a result of liberals not thinking their journalism is any good. Of course, Tapper and Milbank don't have to agree with those assessments of their work product - sometimes, no doubt, the criticism is incorrect. But it would be nice if they (finally) realized that the criticism they've been getting isn't about who is in the White House, it's about their own work.