The Wright Story: What Took So Long

Over at USA Today, Don Campbell wrote a pretty good column called the “Wright story: What took so long?” Well, it was good except for one thing — the author didn’t answer his own question,

Barring some really strange math or a lot of second thoughts, the Democrats seem poised to nominate for president a man with the fewest credentials and least familiarity to the American people of anyone in modern history. It’s just one more way that Barack Obama is breaking the mold, and barring a major shift, he should give some of the credit to the news media.

…The record shows that publications such as the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Rolling Stone magazine had detected the controversial nature of Obama’s church about the time he entered the presidential race, in early 2007. Soon after the announcement speech, moreover, Wright himself volunteered to The New York Times that he had been disinvited to give the invocation at Obama’s presidential launch because of the baggage he would bring to the podium. That set off conservative bloggers and talkers, but little or no follow-up in the regular or so-called mainstream news media.

More than a year passed before ABC News’ Brian Ross had the clever idea to purchase videos of Wright’s sermons to review them. The most incendiary clips quickly landed on YouTube, and the rest is history. The news media were dragged into the controversy holding their noses, but by then Obama had the goal line in sight.

…Speculation aside, Obama has been ill-served by a press corps that seemingly was mesmerized by the large, frenzied crowds who turn out to see the Democratic rock star. Crowds can be deceiving: McGovern, nobody’s idea of a rock star, attracted huge and exuberant crowds throughout the fall of 1972 — on his way to losing 49 states to Richard Nixon.

…More than two years ago, at a Gridiron Club news media dinner in Washington, Obama poked fun at his meager accomplishments when he told his audience: “I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you’ve given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we’ll let you know.”

But the joke was on the journalists then, and now that Obama is about to actually do something, it still is.

See? There are a lot of great lines in there, but no answer to the very obvious question: “What took so long?”

Well, we could just as easily ask, “What took the press so long to cover the allegations by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth back in 2004?”

After all, the Swifties formed before Kerry captured the nomination and his anti-war protesting wasn’t exactly a secret. Moreover, the Swift Boat Vets were veterans, many of them had served with Kerry, they were credible — moreso than Kerry himself — and they actually blew huge holes in some of Kerry’s stories.

Yet, despite the fact that they were getting enormous coverage on talk radio and in the blogosphere, the mainstream media almost completely ignored them until Kerry responded to them publicly and then they simply aped the Democratic line, “Their allegations have been disproven,” without ever giving their arguments a serious looksie.

Another clue that may help answer Don Campbell’s question was the huge outcry on the Left after the ABC debate, where Obama bombed when he had to actually answer some tough questions about Jeremiah Wright, his refusal to wear a flag pin, and his connections to terrorist William Ayers.

So, why didn’t the media hit Obama on Wright earlier? Why didn’t they cover the Swift Boat Vets for Truth earlier? Why was there such a protest over Barack Obama being asked tough questions in a debate?

It’s the same answer to every question: the mainstream media is mostly comprised of liberals, they do what they can to try to help their candidate win, and they generally think it helps to give Democrats a pass on tough issues. Are they right? I’m not sure that they are, especially in an age where the new media makes sure that these issues eventually come to people’s attention.

Republicans are used to tough vetting and being treated unfairly by the media, so when the hammer drops — and eventually, it almost always does even for liberals — GOP candidates are usually well prepared. That’s often not the case for liberals. They often have weaknesses exposed late in the game and do a poor job of handling it because they’re simply not used to getting really tough questions from the press.

When the Republicans were picking a candidate, I was happy to see Mitt’s Mormonism, McCain’s age, Huckabee’s sermons, and Rudy’s marital trysts getting attention — because you can be sure that all of those things would be discussed ad nauseum during a long campaign.

Had the Wright story broken earlier in the game, Hillary, who is the stronger candidate of the two, would probably now be in the catbird’s seat instead of Barack. Maybe that won’t make a difference in a year where the Democrats have a wind at their back, but if Obama gets the nomination and goes down to defeat, the MSM’s aborted attempt to protect him for so long will have a lot to do with it.

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