Republican Governor Chris Christie finds himself at the center of the 'Bridgegate' controversy. The media isn't treating him fairly. Not at all. The presumption is he's got to be guilty of something -- at least knowing that his staffer was involved in political retribution, despite there not being a shred of evidence (that we're aware of) suggesting he had any knowledge.
The media is currently obsessed with an apparent "culture" in the Governor's office that might be responsible for making a staffer feel like this type of retribution would be permissible. And this coverage has been hypocritical when compared to how the media treated various President Obama scandals, including the exact same charge of a culture problem at the White House.
Take for example "Meet the Press" host David Gregory. He tweeted:
Okay. Fair question. A question that should be asked. How'd Gregory react to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking about the culture of intimidation in the Obama White House that possibly lead to IRS agents targeting conservatives for extra scrutiny?
When the question over the "culture" of the White House is mentioned, Gregory goes on the defense and argues there is no evidence whatsoever that would suggest a culture of intimidation. Not a shred. Gregory insists, basically, that this level of attack is absurd and uncalled for.
So why is it any different for Christie?
Take another example with Chuck Todd of NBC News. On MSNBC last week, he asked whether or not Christie "created a culture where this is assumed to be acceptable behavior." How did Todd approach allegations by Sen. Marco Rubio that the President's White House created a culture making it acceptable for IRS agents to target conservatives?
They're legitimate questions when asked of Christie but Todd seems dumb founded as to why anyone would bring this up during the Obama-IRS scandal? A sickening dose of double standard.
What upset me the most, however, in the scandal coverage is former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell on MSNBC, who implied the NJ Governor must have known what was going on with his staffer. Rendell said:
"I was governor for eight years and was a hands-on Governor, like Governor Christie. My deputy Chief of Staff, whose desk was 25 feet from mine, would never have done something like this without my clearance, asking me for prior approval, in a month of Sundays, would never have contemplated doing something like this and I can't imagine anyone would have done it either. He said yesterday I'm not a micro manager. He said I can't be responsible for 65,000 people, but this is your Deputy Chief of Staff, arguably, second or third most important in your office..."
Fair enough. I suppose President Obama should have had that kind of knowledge over his staff during some of his administration's scandals? Not so much:
The President has "high integrity" and would "never be involved" with any shenanigans of his staff. Christie? Well, he must have known something. The only difference here is letter next to their names.
The double standard is sickening and it's part of the reason why political discourse in this country is at such a low.
You have Democrats, on the whole, being unfairly praised by too many influential voices in the media. That makes Republicans increase their negativity, hoping to get the attention of folks like you and me. You have the Republicans, on the whole, being unfairly criticized by too many influential voices in the media. That makes Democrats increase their negativity so they can help bury their opponents (it's a smart political strategy).
As a result, truth, fairness, and discourse suffers.
Here's a model idea (I can't take credit for it): lets have the media treat everyone fairly and reasonably, question everyone equally, and report the results of your investigations in a meaningful way that forwards the national conversation. How's that?