The trumpets are blaring. The fireworks are erupting. The tributes are growing.
Elizabeth Warren is the media’s new heroine.
She’s been a press favorite roughly forever. But by standing up to a Democratic president and bringing the government to within hours of a shutdown, the freshman senator is being lionized like never before.
“Elizabeth Warren Is Catching Fire,” Politico declares.
Pretty amazing, considering that she, um, lost her battle.
The Washington Post not only hailed her in a front-page headline —“Democrats’ Warren Wing Sends a Message”—but its Fix column suggested that Hillary Clinton move up the launch of her presidential campaign, saying there’s “a big reason why she should at least consider announcing sooner rather than later. And it's named Elizabeth Warren. Or, at least, the energy and passion among liberals that is, at the moment, channeled through Warren.”
The press has been trying to draft Warren for the 2016 race, despite months of denials that she will jump in. So now it’s casting the Massachusetts lawmaker in a new role: leader of the liberal opposition to President Obama.
The hometown Boston Globe offered this glowing piece:
“In losing Wall Street battle, Warren may gain party clout”
The Hill went with a declarative headline, “Warren Makes Her Mark”:
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s crusade against the $1.1 trillion spending bill backed by the White House firmly establishes the Massachusetts populist as a powerful player in Washington.”
And there was this:
“The fight earned her comparisons to Texas firebrand Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, another relative newcomer to the Senate who has shown outsized clout in his party.”
Ah, but the comparison quickly breaks down.
Warren’s reason for working to defeat the bipartisan, $1.1-trillion spending bill was to stop a GOP provision that would roll back some Dodd-Frank restrictions on big banks. The mainstream media are sympathetic to any assault on Wall Street greedheads, so Warren was portrayed as a woman of principle.
Cruz, in rallying conservative Republicans against last year’s budget compromise, was trying to halt funding for ObamaCare. The media had decided that battle was over.
So the Texas lawmaker was portrayed as a Cruz missile, an obstructionist, a hostage-taker, a man engaged in “political terrorism,” as Chris Matthews put it. Slate called him and other Republicans “kidnappers,” and to make sure no one missed the point, ran a picture of Cruz alongside one of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Now there are key differences. Warren never threatened to carry her fight all the way to a government shutdown. She mounted her battle over the space of 24 hours as the pro-banking provision emerged in the bill. The House narrowly averted a shutdown as Obama and Joe Biden corralled enough Democrats and John Boehner salvaged enough Republicans who hated the bill because it didn’t derail the president’s executive order on immigration.
Cruz, on the other hand, fought the 2013 budget plan for months and made perfectly clear he and his allies had no intention of backing down, even as he tried to shift the blame to Harry Reid. The Republicans were largely blamed for the 16-day shutdown. And even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page accused Cruz of kamikaze tactics, since it was clear he could not win the fight.
But political grandstanding and the Green Eggs and Ham filibuster aside, wasn’t Cruz fighting for an issue he believed in?
Why is Warren depicted as populist true believer and Cruz as a wacko bird?
You don’t even have to go back to last year to see the contrasting treatment of Ted Cruz. On Saturday, Cruz objected to the proceedings and forced a symbolic vote on Obama’s immigration order, forcing the Senate to stay in session until 1 a.m.
On Politico, right next to the Warren “On Fire” headline, was this: “Ted Cruz Does It Again.”
“The fiasco has turned many of Cruz’s colleagues openly against him,” Politico said.
But Warren also ticked off some in her party by upending the script written by the White House and Reid. Yet the accompanying Politico piece said, “With every recent anti-establishment move, the Massachusetts Democrat grows more attractive as a 2016 candidate, both in her own right and as a progressive foil for Hillary Clinton.”
The media, let’s face it, are turning out to be a major asset for Elizabeth Warren, crowning her the de facto champion of the left.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.