It seems that the new new thing in airy pronouncements of media criticism is that Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) filibuster (we're going to use this term for the sake of argument) of his party's own continuing resolution bill is not being treated as fairly as Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' (D-Fort Worth) filibuster against abortion restrictions. Tim Carney, for example, complains that Davis was treated as a "media hero," while Cruz has been tagged as a "grandstander."
Politico's Dylan Byers endorses this view, saying that "the coverage of Cruz has been critical, and in some cases unforgiving, from the outset" whereas, "Davis wasn't viewed through a critical lens at all."
What everyone seems to have forgotten is that Davis' filibuster wasn't viewed through any media lens, critical or otherwise. That's the big difference between Cruz's filibuster and Davis' filibuster: Cruz's filibuster has, at the very least, been covered by the media. I can swivel around in my chair and watch it happening live, on C-SPAN, right this very minute. And over the past day, each of the cable news networks has dipped in for plenty of live looks of their own. When they're not looking in at it live, they are discussing it. Cruz is getting a pretty good deal.
Let's take a look back at how Wendy Davis' filibuster was covered, shall we? Per Carl Franzen:
But viewers of the major national cable and broadcast networks would be forgiven for not knowing who she is or what she did on Tuesday night. After all, during the filibuster's momentous conclusion, CNN aired a repeated segment of Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper discussing the calories in a blueberry muffin. MSNBC ran a rerun of the earlier airing of Rachel Maddow, despite covering the bill's passage in the Texas House earlier in the week, and Fox News ran a repeat of Greta Van Susteren. "As the clock hit 11PM in Texas I checked the third screen — TV — once more, thinking that by now the cable news execs would have gotten wind of the story and broken into regularly-scheduled programming," wrote entrepreneur and CNN contributor Rachel Sklar on Medium. "No such luck."
Yes, that's right. "Media hero" Wendy Davis played second fiddle to a muffin during her filibuster, whereas we all got a steady fill of Cruz orating Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs And Ham." (Lucky Cruz! He is not required to speak only on subjects that are deemed "germane.")
Now, as Justin Green astutely points out, if you want to hold someone culpable for putting Cruz's filibuster on fade, blame the front page editors of America's treeware news -- there is nary a peep about Cruz's filibuster there, and this is sort of puzzling.
But let's have some real talk. If you weren't following the Texas Tribune's livestream of the event, then you had no live coverage of what was transpiring in the Texas State Senate that evening. In the aftermath, the media was as likely to discuss Davis' shoes as it was the substance of her arguments, and their countering arguments. On the other hand, there was tremendous coverage of Cruz's intentions during the run-up to his filibuster, a cornucopia of coverage of the event itself, and we'll likely be talking about this one through the weekend and beyond.
If Cruz complainants want to carp about the way he's been depicted as a "grandstander," they have that right, and I say let 'em have at it. Davis caught her fair share of flak, too, and can probably sympathize. But let's not get confused, here. Cruz has greatly benefitted from an abundance of media coverage, the surface of which Davis only managed to scratch. Cruz, in fact, just thanked the people, who watched him filibuster, "from all across the country." And people all across the country were, indeed, given copious access to his effort. Davis didn't receive a similar benefit. To compare the two filibusters, and conclude that Cruz is getting the short end of the stick, is just laughable.
By the way, I am basically 100 percent sure that Cruz never does anything with the intention of becoming a "media hero." So whining about that is very unbecoming as well.
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