The Note

If you don't have a professional or financial stake in the now-raging debate about media bias (say, Eric Alterman's tuition fund, or Bernie Goldberg's summer share), you can't help but believe that the standard of conduct and coverage to which Bill Clinton was held was too high, and the one for George W. Bush is too low.

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We don't know where the bar SHOULD be placed by the political and White House press corps to hold each and every president (and candidate) accountable to the public interest, but we DO know it belongs somewhere between Point B(ush) and Point C(linton).

For the first time in The Note's career, Democrats have joined Republicans in the belief that the press is systematically biased against them, and agitate everyday to try to change things (or work around their media enemies).

The Bush White House tends to leave any griping about press bias to surrogates, while in public, led by Ari Fleischer, they adopt a faux "the press will do its job/we'll do ours" posture.

But put an enterprising reporter in a "hallway close to..(a) meeting room and near what appeared to be a kitchen storage area" while Karl Rove is doing one of his opening-act speeches-for-bundlers (paving the way for a POTUS event), and the de facto campaign manager of Bush-Cheney '00 and Bush-Cheney '04 gives off a different vibe.

The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers stood outside Karl Rove's CLOSED PRESS briefing in Fort Worth yesterday, and through the capacity of sound to travel through and around closed doors, got the sense from the president's political adviser that there is still a perception of bias extant at 1600 (maybe it's pro-underdog bias, in this case, though … ): LINK "Even with the president's popularity, Mr. Rove said, the race will be tough. Early surveys indicate Mr. Bush getting support from less than 50 percent of the public in a matchup with a generic Democratic nominee."

"For starters, Mr. Rove said, the Democratic nominee would become a media darling with The Washington Post , New York Times and political writers."

"'He will be a hero on the evening newscasts,' Mr. Rove said. 'He will be at or ahead of us in the polls.'"

(Mr. Jeffers work is a must-read.)

In a world without Ann Devroy LINK

or an independent counsel law, no president is going to face the kind of relentless you-can-do-no-right scrutiny that Bill Clinton had slapping him in the face every day (and/but we all know he brought some of it on himself too).

But when the New York Times White House reporter leaves Seoul to go (figuratively?) to London to (implicitly) write about how the White House press corps isn't subjecting Bush to high enough scrutiny, well, The Note gets a big laugh out of it.

Writing under a "London" dateline and keying off of all the pressure Tony Blair is feeling over the pre-war justifications of taking out Saddam Hussein, the New York Times ' Sanger and Hoge write powerfully and with a bit of Pogo LINK

about why President Bush isn't facing the same heat that Blair is facing, or that Bill Clinton surely would have faced with the shoe on the other foot: LINK

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