In an obvious attempt to curry favor with the Romney campaign, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHai complain about the media’s supposedly “biased” coverage of the Republican nominee:
Republicans cry “bias” so often it feels like a campaign theme. It is, largely because it fires up conservatives and diminishes the punch of legitimate investigative or narrative journalism. But it also is because it often rings true, even to people who don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh – or Haley Barbour.
The larger complaint is that the media is evaluating Romney with an intensity that wasn’t applied to Barack Obama in the 2008 election. But that’s not true at all! Obama was the subject of profiles from virtually every newspaper and political magazine with a national audience. The New York Times raised the issue of Jeremiah Wright in 2007, and—as Slate’s Dave Weigel points out—also delved into Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers the following year. What’s more, by the time he announced his bid for the Democratic nomination, Obama had written two books—including a memoir—and offered extensive information about about himself. I’d go as far as to say that we knew more about Barack Obama at this stage of the 2008 election than we currently know of Mitt Romney.
Oh, and one other thing. There’s this crazy thing humans have devised called statistical tracking! And with its magical tools, we can actually see whether or not the media has had a bias in its coverage toward Mitt Romney. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Romney has had net positive coverage since last summer, when the Republican nomination contest began in earnest. By contrast, coverage of Obama has been mostly negative. This is not to say that there’s a press bias against Obama—this data aggregates everything said, even if it comes from opposing partisans—but to say that Politico is making a silly complaint.
One last point. If the press does have a bias, it’s in favor of the easy story. The Romney team relies on false and misleading claims for its case against Obama and has yet to receive pushback from reporters following the campaign. It would be nice for Allen and VandeHai to provide a critical take on Republican claims, rather than parrot their complaints to the public under the guise of “journalism.”