How Media Bias Works

by Dick Morris | November 5, 2015 12:05 am

What happened to the email scandal? Or the cost of Hillary Clinton’s and Bill Clinton’s speeches? Or the Uranium deal where President Putin got control of our mines? Or Hillary Clinton’s lie about Benghazi being caused by a video? Or any of the scandals the media pursued with such zest and vigor until last week?

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Some say that Clinton won the debate by surviving the Benghazi hearings. Others say there was nothing there in the first place.

The truth is that the four-year rule kicked in. The four-year rule, widely honored but never admitted by the media provides that it can be critical of the Democratic Party, President Obama, or the Clintons for only three out of every four years. But when an election year looms, they have to cut it out and fall in line behind the Democratic Party and its likely nominee, Hillary Clinton. In other words, when the stakes are down, they have to cut out the criticism.

Two weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden decided not to run for president. From that date on, the harsh media criticism of Hillary stopped and will remain stopped until after Election Day, 2016. The four-year rule took over.

I was exposed to the four-year rule in 1996. As Clinton ran for re-election, I got a call from the executive editor of The New York Times, Joseph Lelyveld. He wanted an interview with the president. His request came after months during which the Times savaged Clinton with every kind of criticism. Almost single handedly, the Times kept the Whitewater scandal alive, joyously chronicling its every twist and turn. How, I thought, did they think Clinton would grant them an interview? So they could continue to savage him?

Anticipating my hesitancy, Joe Lelyveld, assured me that “we don’t think people care about what happened in Arkansas years ago.” Translation: Give us the interview and we won’t ask him embarrassing questions about Whitewater. From now on, we are on the pad.

I relayed the request to the president. He was, to say the least, disinclined to cooperate. Then I repeated Lelyveld’s line about the events in Arkansas years ago. Clinton still said no. But Mike McCurry, our press secretary, and I strongly urged him to relent.

He did so, muttering how much he hated the Times.

Then, to my shock, Todd Purdum, the Times reporter who was to conduct the interview, called and asked to meet me beforehand. When we met, over drinks at the Hay Adams Hotel, he sketched out for me the questions he planned to ask and solicited my advice on any additional ones I might suggest. Talk about softballs. We got the questions in advance and even could chip in a few of our own. It was the easiest pre-interview briefing I’ve ever conducted. The president practiced hitting softballs out of the park all day.

The interview was the kindest and most gentle we ever had and a cover story in the Times Sunday Magazine featured the president’s picture on the cover.

The sycophantic coverage continued all year. This publication, which had caused more angst than any other for three years, now rolled over and played dead.

I learned then about the right of passage and the four-year rule. Now it is Hillary Clinton’s turn to benefit. So don’t count on the media to continue to tell the truth about Clinton now that she is the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can’t go after her. But we will be on our own. The media resonance we’re accustomed to hearing as we talk about the Clinton speeches or Benghazi or emails will — and has — stopped. Now we will hear only the sounds of the media’s silence.

It’s time to rally behind the Party.

Also see,

Hillary Lied About DOMA on Maddow Show

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