‘A Curve Suitable for a Parrot’

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen was one of John McCain’s strongest media defenders–and that’s saying a lot–up until about the time of the Sarah Palin pick, which seemed to convince Cohen that it wasn’t true that there was only so far McCain would go before “his pride or his sense of honor takes over.” Since then, he’s been quite critical of the McCain campaign, and yesterday he wrote some quite pointed media criticism about the pundit reaction to the Biden/Palin debate:

Can you imagine the feverish blogging across the political spectrum if [Hillary] Clinton had claimed credit for stopping a bridge that, in fact, had set her heart aflutter? What if she had shown that she didn’t know squat about the Constitution, if she could not tell Katie Couric what newspapers or magazines she read or if she had claimed an intimacy with foreign affairs based on sighting Russia through binoculars?

Ah, but the scorn, approbation and ridicule that would have descended on Clinton — I can just imagine the [Wall Street] Journal editorial — have been withheld from Palin. Much of the mainstream media, grading on a curve suitable for a parrot — “greed and corruption, greed and corruption, greed and corruption” — gave her a passing grade or better. I agree with Palin. It’s the mainstream media that flunked.

It’s easy to see why Cohen, an insider’s journalist, would be offended by a candidate like Palin who continually asserts that being a “hockey mom” is one of her major qualifications for being on a national ticket. What’s harder to understand is all the members of the Washington journalistic establishment who continue to bend over backwards for Palin even as she incites mobs to hurl abuse at their colleagues.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.