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September 2, 2008

Volume 2, Number 18

Hate GOP Attacks, But Yearn for Democratic "Red Meat"

After the McCain campaign released an ad lampooning Barack Obama as a celebrity, ABC anchor Charles Gibson grumbled how "It's getting nasty. And it's only July." On August 13, CBS's Dean Reynolds swiped at how, in his eyes, McCain had become disrespectful: "Now, it frequently seems respect takes a backseat to ridicule."

But during last week's Democratic convention, those same networks pleaded for the speakers to attack the GOP. "There is one big piece missing tonight," CNN's Jeffrey Toobin fretted on Monday, "and that is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that." The next night, CBS's Bob Schieffer complained that in a normal keynote address "you get a lot of red meat. I didn't hear a lot of that....Isn't somebody going to have to really draw some contrasts with the Republicans?" CBS's Jeff Greenfield moaned that Mark Warner's keynote speech was "not red meat...more like tofu with sprouts."

Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews fussed: "Why don't they talk about Bush, who they see as a villain?...They're pulling their punches." About a half-hour later, Washington Post columnist and regular MSNBC analyst Eugene Robinson wailed: "I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word ‘torture.' I'm waiting for someone....to talk about all the reasons that Democrats want to get rid of George Bush."

Obama's Thursday night speech laying into McCain scratched network reporters right where they itched. "Four years ago, John Kerry and a lot of Democrats were held accountable for not being tough enough on George Bush," ABC's Gibson claimed, adding: "Barack Obama was obviously...not going to make that mistake." NBC's Chuck Todd applauded: "Obama was basically sending a message to Democrats: I'm not going to be Michael Dukakis, I'm not going to be Al Gore, I'm not going to be John Kerry, I'm going to fight John McCain, I'm going to take him on." CNN's David Gergen was overwhelmed, declaring Obama's speech "a symphony" and "a masterpiece."

Journalists have spent the last several campaigns tut-tutting "negative" campaigning, but they only seem perturbed when it's a liberal who's under attack — yet another double standard in this year's election news.

For more, see the August, 26, 27 and 29 CyberAlerts.


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