At this point in Donald Trump's presidency, we've become almost numb to the daily panic and screeching that defines his press coverage. Some can't take it anymore. They shouldn't show CNN at airports for fear those people will jump out of their planes in midair to escape it all.
But at the dawn of the 2020 presidential campaign, we can already see what's coming, the contrast in tone between "news" coverage of Trump and the bus full of his Democratic opponents. It's going to be just preposterous. It will have all the fairness and balance of a waiter asking you if you'd like to dine on filet mignon or ingest rat poison. Would you prefer to sample Democracy or stick to more of the Darkness?
They already look like they're going to cover the Democrats with all the skepticism of mothers watching their little children play a T-ball game. Each one is precious. Bernie, Biden, Beto and all the rest. It doesn't matter. They're all fantastic. Win or lose, they'll each get a participation trophy.
How things change when the other party is in power. When Obama was running for re-election in 2012, there was an alphabet soup of Republican opponents denouncing the abject failures (and corruption) of the incumbent party, and every one of them was portrayed as a scandal-plagued train wreck. Rick Santorum's wife dated an abortionist before they were married. Newt Gingrich demanded his second wife give him an "open marriage." Rick Perry's hunting lodge had a sign with the N-word on it placed there before his family owned it, and which they subsequently blotted out. As a teenager, Mitt Romney apparently bullied someone via an involuntary haircut.
Being a woman didn't help. Michele Bachmann drew the unforgettable "Queen of Rage" cover in Newsweek that "reported" she belonged to the tea party movement, which they noted had been described as — wait for it — "a maniacal gang of knife-wielding ideologues."
But that was then. An easy guide to the media's approach this time around was demonstrated on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on March 18. Mike Barnicle, who made up stories out of thin air as a columnist for The Boston Globe, now lectures that "our charge in the media" is going to be to "cover this campaign as adults." He complained that last time, the media failed because they spent "six, seven, eight months" hammering Hillary Clinton for her emails.
Which months were those?
"The nation is in peril," protested Barnicle. Therefore, the only principle for "journalism" in this campaign season is defeating Trump. Anything less is unserious and unprofessional.
Barnicle was complaining that some uncooperative jerk was reporting that Beto O'Rourke wrote a story when he was 16 about enjoying the act of running over two children with a car and killing them. "He was 16! I mean, come on!" This from the same Barnicle who said last year that Brett Kavanaugh's accusers would have to be "totally mentally ill" to be fabricating wild stories about Kavanaugh being a teenage rapist.
Take it from Barnicle: He knows about fabrication.
Joe Scarborough then made this conversation completely ludicrous by adding that he feels the same way about Elizabeth Warren: "I don't really care what you signed on your application 35 years ago to get into the Texas Bar." She wasn't 16. She was 36. Scarborough didn't argue it would be "totally mentally ill" to write down you're an "American Indian" when you're not.
Running for president as a Democrat is like being spotted extra points before the game even begins. Any attempt to get to the bottom of any of these Democratic scandals has now been defined as a failure to "cover this campaign as adults."
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.