In the wake of the Daily Caller's widely derided effort last week to claim the emergence of a video capturing a speech Barack Obama gave in 2007 would jolt this year's presidential campaign, editor Tucker Carlson lashed out at journalists who ignored his dubious endeavor, denouncing them as "contemptible."
After suffering what Salon's Joan Walsh described as an "ethnic nervous breakdown" on Fox News last week as he breathlessly portrayed Obama as a race hustler in the 2007 video ("This guy is whipping up race hatred and fear. Period."), a "fuming" Carlson told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz that the media's disinterest in the old Obama clip was "disgusting."
And on Fox, Carlson railed against the "throne sniffers" in the press, the "defenders of Obama," who (wisely) dismissed the Daily Caller/Drudge Report/Fox-hyped video as old news. And not even interesting old news at that.
Carlson has used the Daily Caller flop to whine about liberal media bias. His proof? Journalists won't pay attention to the crackpot items Daily Caller posts. And specifically, journalists wouldn't pay attention to an uninteresting video Carlson hyped last week; a video of a speech that was widely covered in 2007.
Fred Barnes made a similar argument about bias in The Weekly Standard when he wrote an obligatory attack on the press last week for being in the Obama camp and for trying to re-elect the Democrat. Pointing to what he considered to be the glaring examples of obvious bias (it's "massive, palpable, and unprecedented"!), Barnes wrote the press beat up on Mitt Romney for making so-called gaffes, while giving Obama a pass [emphasis added]:
In the treatment of Romney and Obama, the double standard has become habitual. The hunt for gaffes is the defining trait of the media in regard to Romney. But the most egregious gaffe by Obama this year--"You didn't build that"--was ignored for four days and reported only after the conservative press had created a mini-firestorm over the comment.
Like Carlson, Barnes is angry the press didn't immediately take seriously a non-news story the right-wing media manufactured and pushed to attack Obama this summer. In this case, it was the false claim that Obama insulted businessmen with his "you didn't build that" comment.
These latest media attacks from Barnes and Carlson represent an odd chorus to the old liberal bias chant we've heard for decades. And the chorus sounds like this: If reporters don't embrace and report on the utter nonsense that unmoored sites within conservative media create, especially during the campaign season, then journalists are declaring their bias.
It's a legitimate form of media criticism to point out when the press ignores worthy and independent news events. (Media Matters does that regularly.) What's not legitimate about the Carlson and Barnes attacks are they demand journalists pay attention to the "news events" the right-wing media concoct on their own.
If members of the press don't embrace, for instance, the lie that Obama denigrated small business owners with his "build that comment," and if they don't embrace Carlson's race-baiting interpretation of Obama's 2007 speech, then that itself is an act of bias. Journalists must pretend that whatever illogical attack stories are dreamed up within the Obama-hating fever swamps are serious and legitimate.
But they're not. And good journalists can spot the fakes a mile away.
A quick review of Obama's July "build that" speech was all that most people needed to confirm the president's supposedly controversial comment had been completely ripped out of context in a sloppy attempt to create a controversy. (Unfortunately, too many journalists succumbed to the relentless Fox News hyping of the comment and, over time, gave the phony charge too much time and attention.)
As for Carlson's video-peddling, even conservative writers announced the production was a flop and a "snooze."
Sorry Tucker, but ignoring Daily Caller's failed offerings isn't a form of bias. It's just common sense.
Crossposted at County Fair, a Media Matters blog.