It may surprise some conservatives, but Hillary Clinton has always had a prickly relationship with the news media. That relationship reached its nadir during the 2008 campaign, when the press cleared a path for Barack Obama to win the presidency by steamrolling his competitors, including Hillary.
But with Obama out of the picture for 2016, I predict that the media won’t think twice about transferring their affections to Clinton.
In fact, the media-engineered rehabilitation of Clinton has already begun. This month the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The bipartisan report placed significant blame on the Obama administration, and in particular Hillary Clinton’s State Department, for ignoring growing threats in Benghazi and numerous requests for enhanced security. The report found that Islamic terrorists, not an obscure anti-Islamic video, as the administration’s claimed, were responsible for the deadly attack.
But the report contradicts numerous press reports by liberal news outlets.
A recent seven-thousand-word piece in the New York Times whitewashed Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi scandal.
The piece dismissed strong evidence that the administration failed to respond to repeated warnings and appeals for more security at the U.S. consulate. Hillary’s press office itself couldn’t have mounted a better defense of her botched handling of the attack.
The media has sent other signals that it’s ready to get behind Hillary for president.
Last year, CNN and NBC were in the process of producing flattering documentaries of Hillary. The networks, both of which portray themselves as straight, non-partisan news organizations, were to air the films just in time to bolster her image in a presidential run. Only a backlash forced them to shut down their projects.
The notion of a pro-Hillary media would surprise her supporters. Some advisers feel she has been scrutinized unfairly her entire career—from her involvement in the Whitewater scandal and her failed attempt at health care reform to her fashion sense.
Many blame media bias for her squandering a thirty-point lead to a freshman senator in the 2008 primaries.
In her book "Notes from the Cracked Ceiling," journalist Anne Kornblut writes that feminist scholars “mostly agreed that Clinton had received harsher media treatment than Obama, sometimes in familiar ways—stories about her laugh, dubbed her ‘cackle’ by The New York Times, or about her husband.”
But Hillary’s problem wasn’t that she was a woman or that she was being punished for her husband’s record. It was simply that she was running against Barack Obama, who, at the time, was involved in what author and Fox News contributor Bernard Goldberg aptly described as a “slobbering love affair” with the Fourth Estate.
But with Obama out of the picture, the media will gush and fawn Hillary right into the Oval Office, if they can.
For one thing, the media are just as shrill and liberal as Hillary. We should be past the point of debate over the media’s liberalism.
But here’s something sobering for any remaining doubters: A couple of years ago UCLA politics professor Tim Groseclose conducted an empirical study of how different media outlets report political news. He found that “every mainstream national news outlet in the United States has a liberal bias,” and calculated that media bias helps Democratic candidates by as much as ten percentage points in a typical election.
But Hillary is more than just a liberal. She’s also married to the most popular liberal in the country. There will be no shortage of ‘90s Clinton nostalgia in America’s newsrooms in the run-up to 2016. Many in the media will root for her to win just to be able to cover Bill in the White House again.
To be sure, a few enterprising journalists will investigate the Clinton scandals—including, most recently, the Clintons’ dubious money-making ventures, in particular the finances of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
But most of the media will fall in love with the narrative of Hillary becoming America’s first female president. It’s a milestone most journalists think is long overdue—and it’s a story few will be able to resist.
Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families. Follow him on Twitter @GaryLBauer.