Via Politico we hear that at a recent conference, Mark Halperin — of Time and ABC News — decried the media coverage of the 2008 race.
"It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war," Halperin said. "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."
"The example that I use, at the end of the campaign, was the two profiles that The New York Times ran of the potential first ladies," Halperin said. "The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it case her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn’t talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that’s ever been written about her."
The Michelle Obama profile, however, was "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is."
Halperin said that obviously some of the positive coverage was for fair reasons. "You do have to take into account the fact that this was a remarkable candidacy," Halperin said. "There were a lot of good stories. He was new."
But that said, Halperin believes that the coverage was way too slanted.
Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that I too wonder just how fair the media coverage of this campaign was.
Case in point: perhaps the most unfair and negative TV ad run during the entire campaign, by either side, was the Spanish-language TV ad Obama ran against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, that got very little media coverage.
Why didn’t it get more coverage? If McCain had run a comparable ad — with unfair charges, trying to exploit racial tensions — would it have been as under-covered?
In any case, Obama won for any number of reasons, not the least of which were the modern Gold Standard in presidential campaigns and a nation that wanted a dramatic change.
But I believe Halperin’s larger point — since he brought in the media’s rather wanting coverage of the build-up to the war in Iraq as well — is the fact that reporters have an obligation to be better.
What say you?