The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

It Ain’t ‘Whining’ If the Bias Is Real

Posted on | November 14, 2011 | 29 Comments

No, I’m not talking about the bias of Tabitha Hale in excluding me from the BlogCon agenda for the second consecutive year. The final word on that has not only been said, but also set to music. Rather, I’m talking about the evidence of bias by John Dickerson of CBS:

In a slip of the finger that quickly ignited a furor among Mrs. Bachmann’s supporters, Mr. Dickerson e-mailed his colleagues that he would prefer to “get someone else” other than the Minnesota congresswoman for an online show after the CBS News/National Journal debate on Saturday night. The e-mail said that Mrs. Bachmann was “not going to get many questions” in the debate and that “she’s nearly off the charts” — an apparent reference to her low standing in many polls.
The problem was that Mrs. Bachmann’s communications director was copied in on the e-mail, and Mr. Dickerson hit “reply to all.” Oops.

Smitty has said that it is “whining” to call attention to such vicious backstabbing dishonesty, as though no one — least of all Michele Bachmann herself — should call attention to Dickerson’s contemptuous disparagement of her candidacy, lest they be accused of irrational and unseemly self-pity. Bachmann’s campaign manager Keith Nahigan, by contrast, complained of the insult with the obvious goal of exacting retribution.

Now, imagine yourself in Dickerson’s place, while your bosses at CBS News are being deluged with e-mails demanding your immediate termination. Imagine the next 24 hours, as Dickerson is denounced on the radio airwaves by Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, et cetera.

Even if Dickerson doesn’t get fired by CBS, he is now marked for life — his name a despicable epithet, so that no Republican will ever trust him again — thanks to the success of Nahigan in calling attention to that 29-word e-mail.

But there are many more scoundrels like Dickerson in high places amongst the soi-disant elite of the media establishment, and the way they’ve stage-managed the GOP presidential debates this year is the subject of my American Spectator column today:

Whether they’re accused of trying to gin up rating-friendly “fireworks” or limiting questions to a candidate they deem to have dropped out of contention, suspicions toward debate moderators are part of an ongoing erosion of the media’s credibility. Perfect fairness and complete objectivity are perhaps an impossible ideal, but when a candidate claims to have discovered “concrete evidence” of bias, it is a serious charge that merits serious consideration. Republican voters will ultimately decide their party’s nominee, despite efforts by the media elite to decide for them. And Bachmann’s poll numbers are still higher than Huntsman’s.

Please read the whole thing, because among the many unintended consequences of Dickerson’s insult to Bachmann was the fact that I was compelled to spend three hours writing that column in a McDonald’s in Spartanburg, S.C.  The necessary delay in my departure meant that I was on the road driving 452 miles to arrive home at 3:15 a.m., utterly exhausted at the end of a grueling 19-hour day.

Journalism as an act of personal vengeance — seeking vindication against bullies, backstabbers and other such miscreants — is a topic worth at least an essay, if not an entire book, but I’m too tired to write it now.

And why write that story at all, when I’m living it every day of my life?


  • smitty

    That point was made in the context of suggesting that candidates leverage  technology to mitigate the “icious backstabbing dishonesty”, not to accuse anyone of “irrational and unseemly self-pity”.
    We’re talking about running for POTUS here; I want to see George Washington-esque demonstrations of resourcefulness. We all know that Valley Forge sucked.

  • Anonymous

    And you would have thought Scott Pelly’s cheek and hectoring tone was proof enough of bias. In fact, CBS’s choice of Pelley (who was having sex with the sound of his own voice, live on national TV) shows the contempt they hold for these candidates.

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  • Anonymous

    When I was involved in electoral politics, I always preferred the “dark horses” and lamented the lack of attention paid to them.

    But, Smitty is right: It accomplishes nothing to whine about it.

    If anything, this cycle’s debates have been more than fair to GOP primary candidates who are so far behind the pack that it would take a miracle (like all the other candidates taking the same plane, and crashing, or something) for them to have a real shot at the nomination.

    Paul, Santorum, Bachmann and Huntsman continue to show up at the debates.

    They continue to be let into the debates.

    And in each debate, each of them gets a question or two, which they can attempt to use to knock something out of the park, impress the live and television audiences, and maybe get a bump in the polls that they can then try to turn into a wave to ride to victory. I won’t say that’s more than they deserve, but it’s as much as they can reasonably expect.

    Dickerson was simply stating the obvious. If the obvious offends, that indicates a personal problem on the part of the offended, not on the part of the offender.

  • smitty

    I speak as a semi-reformed broken record. There is no particular sin in pointing out any problem, once, dispassionately, at the level of a point paper. After that, attention shifts to what you’re doing about the problem.
    Call it the Inverse Square Law of Griping: you have to square the output power of your grousing with each repetition to have the same effect.

  • t-dahlgren

    So, who got more Q&A time, Bachmann or Huntsman?

    Because if Huntsman got more than a named introduction, followed by a brief sideways glance then the fix was in.

  • Joe

    Well said. 

    George Washington would not whine if Tabitha Hale had to the hots for him and excluded him from blog con as a result.  Just sayin.  

    As for Michelle, yeah CBS is biased against her.  And they revealed themselves.  Okay, but eventually you have to treat this as a race between three or four candidates.  She should get less questions.  But the real question is not that but why they pay so much attention to Huntsman?   Because that shows more than bias.  That shows intentionally promoting their candidate. 

  • Joe

    Ha.  Pelly is a biased tool and Newt’s slapdown was well deserved.  

  • Joe

    Are you suggesting that Santorum and Bachmann should have taken Pelly in the back alley after the debate and worked him over? 

    That would get them some headlines!  

  • Joe

    Spot on.  That is what frosts me about CBS.  

  • ThePaganTemple

    Its not just CBS, they’ve all been doing it. Huntsman was getting as much time when he was at 1% as Bachmann got at 8%. Since Bachmann is down now to 3 or 4 she should get twice as much time as she got before, not less.  By the way, Huntsman knows he’s not going anywhere and so does the media. His purpose is to present what they think the GOP platform should be, and hope he’ll do good enough to encourage others to adopt it, or else look like backwards, bigoted knuckle-dragging bitter clingers. But regardless, Huntsman is what the media thinks a GOP candidate should be, and that’s exactly why he’s in all the debates and gets so much time.

  • Edward

    Who is it that approves of these “debates”?  The GOP and the candidates.  Sure these debates are almost pure garbage and designed to wreck the actual nomination process.

    Who is at fault for approving them again?  Why is this even a question really since we’ve all known about this nonsense for the past 30+ years.  This isn’t new.  Every 4 years the GOP offers up Presidential candidates on a silver platter for the liberal Media to hammer into goo.  And every 4 years the liberal Media goes ahead and does so.

    You want to answer a question I’ve had all along?  Give me the *names* of the people who approve these damn debates.

  • Joe

    Actually I think Huntsman is what a Democratic candidate should be. 

  • Joe

    It is a disgrace that the GOP allows this to happen.  They should set up the debates hosted by say…the Heritage Foundation and then offer the feed to C-Span and the network/cable outfits. 

  • FrankLaughter

    In response to perfectly legitimate criticism about the bad behavior of journalist, we get the ubiquitous “quit whining.” Every time a conservative shares a political complaint, the QuitWhiners show up pontificating to us about our wasteful complaining. If reporters acted that way toward Donks, the  QuitWhiners would be first in line to clapperclaw the bums.

  • Anonymous

    FWIW, I agree that Huntsman has been the beneficiary media bias. It’s like they just can’t believe that their idea of a perfect candidate completely bombs with GOP primary voters.

    Based on his performance in polls, he should have been out, or at least relegated to the “introduction and one question, in case he actually has something to say that might change the game for him” section some time ago.

    Of all the GOP candidates, I’m probably most closely aligned with Paul on foreign policy and economics (but not on social issues — and I wouldn’t vote for him). But my sense is that he got a little more attention than was due him earlier on, and is now, having clawed his way up to the middle or a little above of a shrinking pack, getting a little less than he should.

    Bachmann’s been going the other way. She got plenty of attention early on, but continues to slide in the polls. She got a couple of questions, a couple of opportunities to turn around. She’s got nothing to bitch about. If she wanted to be treated like the top tier, she needed to stay in the top tier.

  • Anonymous

    And for us.

  • Anonymous

    Huntsman is the SDs short position on Obama’s reelection.

  • Anonymous

    Every man is the guardian of his own honor, and to say that a man is not fit to judge for himself when has been insulted or wronged is to declare him unworthy of respect.

  • Anonymous

    In part how much time any of the candidates get is a function of how many attacks they get to respond to. Without the others disparaging his foreign policies and given that the moderators probably don’t think Paul’s foreign policy ideas need airing at all it’s wonder he got to talk at all.
    Your quite right about the media’s bias towards Huntsman they can’t believe that he isn’t preferable to the other not Romneys. They wont believe it till after the convention.

  • Anonymous

    As P.J. O’Rourke once said of Dan Quayle, “I’m sure he’d rather have a reputation for evil than the one he’s got now,”

  • Joe

    But George Washington knew better than to give his critics the benefit of knowing his pain directly.  Rather he just wrote them off. 


  • Joe

    True True. 

  • Bob Belvedere

    They won’t believe it even then.  This is the Left we’re talking about and Leftism is a mental illness [I’m serious].

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  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Huntsman is on Fox News constantly! ALL the shows. He is on more now than when Bachmann was when she won the straw poll that had her as the frontrunner.

  • ThePaganTemple

    I think they might actually be using Huntsman to derail Romney. Or that might have been the initial intention. If Huntsman’s numbers rise, it will come almost completely from Romney. The media and left believe that Romney is Obama’s greatest threat, and that somebody like Bachmann or Santorum would be easy for Obama to trounce. Now that Newt’s tied for front-runner status with Mitt, its going to be interesting to see how they react.

  • ThePaganTemple
  • ThePaganTemple

    His daughters are on quite a bit as well. Like they’re going to sway anybody.