Howard Kurtz reports that Hillary Clinton’s “senior advisors have grown convinced that the media deck is stacked against them.” In his piece, Kurtz largely comes down on Clinton’s side, although he allows that “sometimes the Clinton complaints go too far.”
But Kurtz charges that journalists: have been “gushing” in their treatment of Barack Obama and frequently call him “a rock star”; have been overly-fatalistic in describing Clinton’s recent slip in the polls; and have paid scant attention to Obama’s missteps – particularly those involving fundraising. He even gets Mark Halperin to claim that the media is partly rooting for Obama “because he’s a young African-American.”
A couple of thoughts:
* This is nothing new. The press is always perceived to be promoting and rooting for the underdog candidate, especially when the front-runner is a heavyweight like Hillary. Remember John McCain in 2000? Gary Hart in 1984?
* Obama pretty much earned the “rock star” label. His candidacy is rooted entirely in his image and personality. He became a national player by captivating the country with one speech, at the 2004 Democratic convention, and was induced into the ’08 race when he realized what a crowd magnet he was while campaigning for other Democrats in 2006. I don’t know if Obama can carry a tune, but he is the closest thing politics has to a rock star, Mike Huckabee notwithstanding.
* Kurtz is right that Obama’s campaign finances deserve scrutiny. But since Hillary is campaigning on her White House experience and since campaign finance scandals were a major facet of the Clinton presidency, isn’t it also reasonable if the press screams just a little louder when she crosses the line?
* Fair or not, this is how the world works. There are a ton of advantages that come with being the “inevitable” front-runner that Hillary is – and her campaign has been more than happy to cash in on all of them. Being a press target in one of the few bad things that comes with the front-runner’s label. But I doubt the Clinton campaign would trade their poll numbers with the Obama campaign for better media coverage.