The Media's Selective Political Scandal Addiction

Chris Christie's "baggage" is wall-to-wall news, but corrupt Democrats in Pennsylvania and California don't need scrutiny.

04.06.14 4:00 AM ET

The British historian Lord Acton reminds us that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That quote from a letter he wrote in 1887 was as true then as it does today. In light of Benghazi, Fast and Furious, or IRS probes of conservative groups in the midst of a presidential reelection, one might conclude that I’m referring to the corruption of government officials. Perhaps.

The real and absolute corruption I refer to is the power of the mainstream media to decide what it believes to be news while further exercising their power to ignore stories that don’t match their liberal editorial perspective.

Consider, for example, the exhaustive coverage Chris Christie has received in recent months. Despite there being no evidence the New Jersey governor had prior knowledge that his aides would shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish a local mayor for not supporting his reelection campaign, the media has been unrelenting in their attempt to portray him as either corrupt or hiding something.

To test this theory, I typed “Chris Christie” into a popular Internet search engine and the first three articles to appear were: (1) “Chris Christie denies he has too much ‘baggage’ to run for president in 2016” (2) “New Jerseyans: Chris Christie isn’t being honest. But fuggedaboudit.” (3) “Chris Christie’s Bridge Scandal Lawyers to Be Subpoenaed.” One can’t help but notice pejoratives like “baggage” or “scandal.”

Many Americans are well aware of the political fallout from Bridgegate, particularly because Christie is considered a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. But I suspect most would know nothing about two corruption stories involving politicians that have broken in the past few weeks. The first involves four representatives to the Pennsylvania House accepting bribes and gifts from Tiffany’s—all captured on a wiretap—for allegedly voting against the Keystone State’s voter-ID bill championed by Republicans. 

Did I mention all four Representatives are black Democrats? When typing in “Pennsylvania voter ID scandal,” a grand total of one story appeared.  Never mind that Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a fellow Democrat, shut down the investigation of the lawmakers even after she admitted that she believed crimes had been committed. And not surprisingly, there have been suggestions that the lawmakers were targeted because they were black.

Only in today’s perverse politically correct climate can four lawmakers be caught on a wire accepting bribes and gifts for official acts and have their actions brushed off due to racism. In fairness, laws presently on the books allow Pennsylvania legislators to take gifts legally. The fact that this is permissible is ludicrous, but the original investigation opened by then-attorney general Corbett (now Pennsylvania’s governor) probed whether these lawmakers accepted gifts and money in exchange for their votes against voter ID laws—clearly illegal to accept money for official acts. The point here is that the lawmakers took it upon themselves to enrich themselves at the hands of a phony lobbyist, but the national media has largely exercised their power to ignore the story—if you didn’t read about it or see it on television, it must not have happened, right?

Finally, we turn to our trusty Internet search engine to type in “Democrats indicted.” In case you haven’t heard, three California state senators were charged with a variety of crimes almost two weeks ago. A search I conducted late last week found hardly any stories written by a major publication – most of the commentary was limited to conservative sites such as WMD.com, Rushlimbaugh.com or Foxnews.com.

Only a week after the story originally broke, did the Washington Post, New York Times and the broadcast networks “discover” the story which portrayed Democratic legislators in a negative light.  Purely coincidental, I’m certain.

The framers of our Constitution specifically noted in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” I’m concerned that the mainstream media today have taken their freedom of the press to move away from dispassionately reporting the news to using their absolute power to frame the news Americans receive.

There is a reason why subscriptions at major newspapers across the country are in steep decline. To be certain, many of us enjoy reading our news on a variety of electronic devices. Still, I believe there are many more who have tired of a media bias against conservatives in favor of progressive causes and politicians have stopped paying to have propaganda delivered to their doorstep every morning.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s dogged reporting about a break-in at the Watergate hotel eventually led our 37th president to resign in disgrace. If the exact facts and scenario that befell President Nixon had occurred during the Obama investigation, does anyone honestly believe the media would have hounded the 44th President of the United States from office? Certainly not. Which is why the mainstream media’s decision to largely ignore questions surrounding Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the IRS investigating conservative groups is such a disgrace and an abuse of power. The media has a duty to report the news rather than shade it to favor those whose political and ideological views they support

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IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner recently said it would take a year or more to locate her email records—a clear attempt to stonewall which the media ignores.  Same with Contempt charges presently lodged against Attorney General Holder for his refusal to turn over requested documents via Fast and Furious. 

The administration is clearly engaged in a “wait out the clock” scenario in which the variety of lawsuits pending regarding alleged scandals will be settled long after the Obama Admin is over. Hence, the calculated strategy to call the Republicans effort to get to the truth as strictly motivated and carried out by Fox News rather than these outlets asking hard and objective questions that could well put the Admin in a negative light.

Having absolute power to dispense the news has absolutely corrupted today’s mainstream media—a detriment that dramatically harms our society today.