The next presidential election is more than a year away, but news reporters are pummeling GOP presidential hopefuls like Rocky taking on a freezer full of meat.
The attacks could work against the Scott Walkers and Jeb Bushes of the party, but they also leave the press vulnerable to months of assaults on its integrity. The latter appears more likely thanks to conservatives hammering guilty reporters on social media. Their message is clear: this isn’t 2012 or 2008.
Just do a Twitter search on #ObamaLovesAmerica and you’ll be inundated with snarky and sober comments from the Right. It’s only a fraction of the blowback heading towards reporters who are all too eager to take out a GOP contender.
Conservative media outlets like National Review and Breitbart News are underlining the bias, but they aren’t alone. Conservatives are sharing their news stories, cranking up comic memes based on the hopelessly biased reportage, and peppering via Twitter reporters who unfairly target the GOP. In short, they’re revealing media organs like The Washington Post for what they appear to be, the Ready for Hillary campaign’s not-so-secret weapon.
Scott Walker, Social Media Warrior
And the initial GOP frontrunner, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, leads their efforts. In true Andrew Breitbart fashion, Walker is calling out media outlets for their gotcha queries.
Such press attacks on the GOP are the kind rarely visited on Democrats. The Washington Post conducted a thorough, and utterly nitpicky, examination of Walker’s college years. Time magazine went so far as to interview the governor’s former high-school teacher for some gotcha gold.
Those very same outlets couldn’t be bothered to dig into President Obama’s college records, then or now. They are sealed and likely will remain so since few reporters feel curious enough to so much as type “Obama AND college” into Google. Or Bing.
So what did Team Walker do in response to the academic attacks? It started raising money off the obvious bias:
‘When you have a record like President Obama and the Democrats’, the last thing you want to talk about are results. That is why their defenders in the mainstream media love to distract the public,’ the email said.
Over the weekend, conservatives pounced when Jezebel published a story accusing Walker of stopping sexual assaults at the University of Wisconsin from being reported to the government. It was the War on Women 2.0—or perhaps 8.0., given how often the tactic is used against conservatives. The Daily Beast quickly picked up the story, magnifying its reach and clout.
Except the story was a lie. Walker was simply responding to a university request. It was already reporting these statistics to the government, so duplicating that effort wasted time and resources.
Conservatives let the Jezebel story’s author, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, have it on Twitter for not doing a Google search for context. Vargas-Cooper initially fired back in a defiant tone. The sheer volume of Tweets mocking her fallacious story convinced her to lock her Twitter account.
The Right Swings Back
We learned this week that Jeb Bush’s wife is prone to spending some of the couple’s considerable wealth. Where is that fainting couch when we need it? Breitbart News’ John Nolte shredded The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty in true Jon Stewart fashion for co-authoring the Bush wife story.
Nolte wasn’t alone in publicly pressuring Tumulty. He got a hand from others on social media, and after getting a cyber smackdown Tumulty threw up her hands and said, “I’ve got work to do.”
Consider the plight of poor Ron Fournier. The veteran scribe at National Journal faced the brunt of conservative ire earlier this month. He sent out the following tweet to share a withering New York Times column on Walker’s school-based rulings.
Welcome to the Big Time, @ScottWalker. This is @nytimescollins; she’ll be keeping you real: http://t.co/tiTREpzOwq
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) February 14, 2015
Only the column in question blamed Walker for something that had happened before he actually became governor. At least Fournier apologized both for the column’s epic mistake and his tweet’s haughty tone. That wouldn’t have happened, most likely, without conservatives pressuring him via Twitter.
Social Media Reduces the Press’s Power
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani recently described President Obama in ways that mirror the fiery rhetoric far too many top Democrats employ. He said the president doesn’t love his own country, in so many words. Salivating reporters rushed to Walker for his reaction to Giuliani’s comments, a tactic they rarely use when a Democrat makes a controversial statement. When the popular governor essentially shrugged his shoulders, those very same reporters went into a frenzy.
This is the same supine press that couldn’t wait to ignore the fact that Obama worshipped in a church led by a spiritual leader who seethed with hatred for America. Remember when CNN proudly declared that an interview with Obama at the height of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy would be a “Wright-free zone”? And does anyone recall the media frenzy after Obama called President George W. Bush “unpatriotic” during the 2008 campaign?
That’s textbook liberal media bias. Ignore the incendiary comments from the Left and use those from the Right as a cudgel against their party. That almost never happens after Gov. Howard Dean shouts his latest questionable comment or Vice President Joe Biden paws another unsuspecting female.
We live a time when random folks on Twitter are funnier than the host of the Academy Awards telecast. A single, perfectly calibrated tweet has as much clout as a New York Times headline, sometimes even more with enough “shares,” “likes,” and “retweets.”
Every year new media outlets grow stronger, bolder, and more influential. And every year the public’s trust in the mainstream media slips. We’re not at a tipping point yet, a time when people greet MSM spin for what it is. But it’s getting closer.
Conservatives simply want a more equitable media playing field to greet the next presidential race. Let the best candidate win, not the one favored by a fawning press.