OK, if you followed the debate in Arizona last night then you got to see Newt Gingrich consume a moderator’s liver for what may be the last time. The topic? Double standards in the media, particularly when it comes to ‘extremist’ positions. The transcript is as follows:
GINGRICH: But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let’s be clear here.
GINGRICH: If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans.
Note the (APPLAUSE). That’s because the audience of Arizona Republicans and conservatives knew exactly what Newt Gingrich was talking about; he was talking about Obama’s voting record against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) – which, by the way, was and is appalling of the President. As those voters know quite well, as a state senator Barack Obama voted against an Illinois state bill that would have extended legal protections to children who survived a botched abortion. An almost-identical version of the same bill passed on the federal level in 2002, and not even “FactCheck.org” can quite take seriously Obama’s claim that he would have supported that bill because it was significantly different*.
While Newt is slightly overstating the issue by claiming that nobody in the media ever brought it up – it was discussed at least once in July of 2008 on, ironically, CNN – his central point remains true. This was an issue, one that conflicted with the preferred media narrative but fit the actual fact that Obama was largely a culture warrior as a State Senator. The story never approached the front pages, and was thus kept out of the cleaner narrative picture Obama wanted painted. There were some clear discrepancies in how the Obama campaign pushed back on this, discrepancies any decent reporter should have regarded as red meat to chew on, and the media… largely declined to push the issue. At all. Certainly not as much as they’ve harped on birth control in the last month or so. And how do we know that this is true?
Because if it wasn’t true – if this issue had been adequately examined – then the Politico’s Alexander Burns would have been sufficiently aware of the issue to have correctly identified what Gingrich was talking about. But because Burns, like most of the rest of Politico, lives and breathes the DC media bubble, he thought that Newt was referring to Obama’s position of partial birth abortion (note that the transcript that Burns referenced does not reference Obama’s controversial vote on the BAIPA at all, despite the fact that it was an issue in the 2004 Senate race). This is not probably actually a case of maliciously getting the story wrong; people are usually smarter about doing that sort of thing. No, this is just regular pig-ignorance and an inability to read/listen.
Oh, was that harsh? It’s meant to be. Again: Gingrich explicitly said that “If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion.” There’s no excuse whatsoever for Alexander Burns not to comprehend exactly what Newt Gingrich was talking about: which leads one to wonder what else the reporter’s gotten comprehensively wrong, over the years…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Note that “FactCheck.org” (scare quotes deliberate) did its level best to push back on the infanticide thing. Shocker.