Compare and contrast. I always liked that exercise in college exams, and it applies well to assessing the ideological landscape of the media.
Look at how the New York Post, on the right, played the Jan. 23 arrest of a former FBI agent, and how The New York Times covered it. The Post played up the gotcha: the agent who triggered the bogus Russiagate probe of former President Donald Trump is now accused of taking bribes from a Russian oligarch. Situational irony, and brash hypocrisy.
Headline: "Charles McGonigal, indicted ex-FBI head, helped trigger 'Russiagate' probe."
The Times waits until the 24th paragraph of 38 paragraphs in its story to meekly admit: "He had a role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election led by Robert Mueller III, asking judges to renew wiretaps on ... a former Trump campaign adviser. The agency later conceded the surveillance was not legally justified."
A polite way of saying the FBI lied to the foreign surveillance court in 2016, after which the media and Democrats dismissed this as a "joke." And then they told us Russian bots were promoting this joke — which was false, as I detailed here.
The left and right media also are divided in their coverage of the discovery of classified government documents illegally stored by President Joe Biden and how this contrasts with their take on the FBI raid on President Trump's home for a similar offense.
The surprise may be that left-leaning media outlets including CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are covering the Biden document story at all, given their alliance with the Democratic Party. The Times has published five stories on the Biden document discoveries since Jan. 10. The Washington Post has run nine stories since Jan. 11.
Which raises a question I asked on Newsmax TV on a recent Sunday: Why are Democrat sources feeding this story to their friends in the media — to get rid of Biden for the 2024 campaign?
CBS News broke this story on Tuesday, Jan. 10, saying the attorney general had assigned a U.S. attorney in Chicago to review classified documents found at a Biden think tank in Washington. That night, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow regarded the Biden offense thusly: "This was not, as it was in Trump's case, the National Archives desperately seeking the return of materials that Trump was blowing off."
Note: The president of the United States has carte blanche authority to declare classified documents declassified. Previously, on Aug.12, she had described the Trump matter as raising the possibility that "a crime has been committed," as I pointed out on "What's Bugging Me."
The Washington Post's coverage included an "analysis" by Dan Balz on why the Trump document scandal is worse than the Biden document scandal (of course), and a media column by Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi on Jan. 13, giving a thorough rundown on the outpouring of coverage. Head: "The Biden documents scandal is a test for the media — and an opportunity."
They point out that ratings are down from the tumultuous Trump years, and they cite the best take yet from a former Obama spox: "The true bias of the media is not ideological; it's a bias for conflict."
Then again, FoxNews.com on the right has run some 30 stories on the Biden document discoveries, more than double the combined output of the Times and Post. Which is as partisan as it sounds.
This Fox News output includes stories on the White House requesting the FBI search of the president's home; more documents found; a timeline; man-on-the-street interviews; on Biden having "no regrets"; on the White House insisting he takes the matter "seriously" after he said he had no regrets; on how the White House has "lost control" of the story; on "stonewalling" a Fox News reporter; and on a photo of a box at Biden's house filled with important documents.
This goes a little overboard. Frankly, the whole document kerfuffle seems overblown. It is more of a housekeeping lapse than an imminent threat to our national security, in both Biden and Trump's cases. No one has reported that anyone sold these docs to the dreaded Russians, or revealed secret designs for nuclear weapons, or put our foreign policy at risk.
Biden's documents, in particular, are especially old; if they were valuable, Chinese and Russian spies would have stolen them by now.
Maybe the left-leaning media had to go all out on the Biden document scandal, once they made such a huge deal out of President Trump's offenses. I tend to doubt it, though; they rarely are that fair.
Dennis Kneale is a writer and media strategist in New York and host of the podcast, "What's Bugging Me." Previously, he was an anchor at CNBC and at Fox Business Network, after serving as a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and managing editor of Forbes. Read Dennis Kneale's reports — More Here.
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