This week was a lesson in priorities. When a prominent Democrat governor went on radio and appeared to support killing newly born babies, it made hardly a blip in the press. Then the media mob formed when news surfaced that the same governor had a racist photo on his college yearbook page.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam quickly became a media disaster for the Democrats and a Democrat disaster for the media. He first admitted the photo was his fault and scheduled a Saturday press conference that many watchers believed would include his resignation — especially since the crisis coincided with the beginning of Black History Month.
Democrats watched in horror the next day as Northam held one of the most disastrous pressers in the history of television, keeping the issue alive like a bizarro version of “Groundhog Day.” He changed his tune about the photo, admitted he had worn blackface impersonating Michael Jackson at another event and almost moonwalked to prove it. Only the intervention of his frustrated wife stopped that embarrassment.
Northam’s clinging to the job like a tick (as of now) even though every major Democrat and the state party have called for his resignation. That extends the humiliation for his supporters, who naturally include the nation’s press.
That same press bungled the story. CNN labeled the Democrat as a Republican on air and had to issue a later correction. Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin was deluged with criticism for her awful take. Rubin referred to Northam’s likely replacement Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax as a “dynamic, eloquent African American.” Even liberal actress Alyssa Milano called Rubin’s description “what systemic deep-rooted racism looks like.”
Both ABC and NBC tried to undercut the initial news report of the photo because it “surfaced on a far-right,” or a “conservative” outlet. Can’t have that!
Northam had been getting the benefit of the doubt all along. He had refused to shake the hand of his African-American debate opponent Bishop E.W. Jackson in 2013. The press ignored that, too.
The Washington Post endorsed Northam for governor, slamming his opponent for “pandering to vile and racially inflammatory tendencies in his party's base.” The paper also found plenty of resources to send reporters to Alabama to dig into Republican Roy Moore’s Senate race.
But it couldn’t muster enough staff time to dig up both of Northam’s college yearbook’s to show his obvious racist past — either the photo or another yearbook that nicknamed him “Coonman.”
The whole Northam train wreck generated a great deal of dark humor. Conservative writer Mark Hemingway scored the best snark about the fiasco: “Bonus points for whichever publication runs with the headline: ‘The War of Northam Aggression.’”
Then there was comedian Bill Maher, who made a bad situation worse. Right in the midst of Northam’s blackface/KKK outfit disaster, Maher decided to make a racist comment to an African-American Republican congressmen.
Maher was mocking Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, a former CIA operative and popular GOP lawmaker, when they had this exchange:
"I was in the CIA for almost a decade," Hurd said. "I was the dude in the back alleys at 4 o'clock in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland."
Maher replied: "That's where they collect 'em, huh? By the Popeye's Chicken?"
No word yet whether HBO disciplines Maher, but it’s not likely. This is who they pay him to be.
Media Didn’t Care About Abortion Extremism
The Northam story didn’t start with a photo. It started with a video — of Virginia Del. Kathy Tran. She testified about a late-term abortion bill and did it so badly that the video went viral as she defended killing babies after they had been born. This came on the heels of a similar extreme bill passing in New York.
Conservatives criticized her immediately. Lifesitenews said, “We are living in the Age of Infanticide.” The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro said liberal support of the bill blew the pro-abortion “argument to smithereens.”
The Washington Post came to Tran’s aid with a classic anti-Republican story and headline. “Del. Kathy Tran was known for nursing her baby on the House floor. Now Republicans are calling her a baby killer.”
That’s when Northam decided to chime and make it worse. He defended Tran and the idea of killing babies — after they are born. Broadcast outlets ignored it entirely at that point. When CBS finally got around to the story, it didn’t cover it, it covered it up. The report that aired cut out enough of what the governor said to make it seem more reasonable. There was no mention of his comment that a baby would be killed after the infant was “delivered.”
Houston Chronicle Vice President and Editor of Opinion Lisa Falkenberg accused GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of having “completely mischaracterized the statement.” Cruz wrote that Northam “advocates taking the life of babies AFTER they are born.”
Only that was what Northam said. The New York Times joined in the blame-the-right defense with this classic headline: “Republicans Seize on Late-Term Abortion as a Potent 2020 Issue.” Once again, it’s like Democrats did nothing at all. The story actually claimed New York Democrats had “expanded abortion rights.” Who could be against that?
So much for the classic media cry of abortion being “safe, legal and rare.”
2020 Election Coverage Has Begun, Badly
It’s almost impossible to remember there’s a presidential election going on given all the Northam chaos. Only that election dominated much of the news this week. Journalists rushed to nuke the candidacy of a man they feared threatened Democrat chances to win back the presidency.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talked about an independent presidential run and the media acted like he was spouting heresy. NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell warned his announcement “could be brewing trouble for Democrats in 2020.”
That argument was nearly universal, Schultz was a threat to Democrats. CBS Political Correspondent cautioned that “an independent candidacy could siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee, handing President Trump a second term.” In another segment, the network highlighted a heckler who shouted, “Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire a------!” There was a time when the so-called heckler’s veto was a bad thing, but only if the media disagree with it.
Entertainment media took the same tack, but were even more obvious. Sometime comedian Stephen Colbert finally found a liberal candidate he didn’t like. After giving tons of support to every lefty who visited his show, he mocked Schultz as “a beige envelope.”
“The View” Host Joy Behar was more direct. “Now your entry into the race pretty much guarantees that a Republican is going to win,” she predicted, saying that result “scares” her.
Dan Gainor is the vice president for Business and Culture at the Media Research Center. You can follow him at @dangainor on Twitter and submit suggestions there.