The Standard Double Standard

If Max Baucus were a Republican, the mainstream press would have little or nothing to say about Tiger Woods and his night-putting habit today, tomorrow, or for a few news cycles to come.

If Max Baucus were a Republican, it wouldn’t matter that he was separated from his wife when he nominated his girlfriend earlier this year to become the next United States Attorney for his state of Montana. If he were a Republican, the press would take it upon themselves to dig through telephone records, interview staffers, look at travel receipts and hack into e-mail servers in an attempt to discern the exact timeline of his relationship with the staffer in relation to his separation from his wife and find anything–anything!–that could be considered rope from which to hang him, his career and his party.

If Max Baucus were a Republican, the mainstream media would spend half of the morning would be spent talking about other Republicans with well-known marital problems, such as John Ensign, Mark Sanford or Larry Craig — without discussing John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevey or Bill Clinton. Actually, even though Baucus is a Democrat, the press will probably still do just that.

If Max Baucus were a Republican, rabid liberal pundits would call not only for hearings into not only the preferential treatment displayed in Baucus’ case, but also for an investigation into relationships between other Republican senators and such nominees.

But Sen. Max Baucus, who nominated his girlfriend–a former staffer–to a position which would be responsible for chasing and investigating any and all corruption in Baucus’ own state, and who intentionally did not apprise either the White House, Montana’s other senator or the attorney charged with reviewing the candidates of the relationship, will get no such treatment from the press. In fact, as CBS News’ Chip Reid stated so tellingly on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program yesterday, this doesn’t even really qualify as a scandal.

Here’s the transcript (emphasis mine), courtesy of the folks at Newsbusters (perhaps the greatest repository of media bias accounts anywhere):

HOWARD KURTZ: Friday night, a new scandal story emerged involving Senator Max Baucus, one of the leading Democrats in the health care debate. Turns out that he recommended to be the U.S. attorney, the top federal prosecutor in his home state of Montana, his girlfriend, a woman who had been on his Senate payroll and suddenly was being, she did not get the job, and she was on this list. And so my question is, I looked at the papers this morning. I’ll start with you, Chip. Washington Post has it on page three, New York Times has it on page 33. I watched CNN all day yesterday. I didn’t see any mention of this story, which I thought was a stunning lapse in judgment. Why isn’t this a bigger story?

CHIP REID, CBS NEWS: Well, I don’t think it has legs because there’s no sex scandal, and it’s not like Vitter. It’s not like Ensign. There’s no scandal here. There is, and there is a long history-

KURTZ, JUMPING IN: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Baucus was married, okay, he was separated. He has a relationship with a woman on his Senate-

REID: He was beyond separated. His wife wasn’t even on his Christmas cards anymore. They were done.

KURTZ: All right, he has this relationship with a woman on his Senate payroll, and he pushes her for a top job in the Justice Department. Why would that not be a scandal?

REID: It’s because there’s a long history of Senators nominating people they are very close to for U.S. attorney.

KURTZ: “Very close to” is the key phrase.

REID: Yeah, exactly.

DAVID FRUM, FRUMFORUM.COM: It is enormous because the U.S. attorney there is the chief anti-corruption officer in that district. And what are the odds that that anti-corruption officer would ever investigate anything Max Baucus doesn’t want to investigate.

MICHELLE COTTLE, NEW REPUBLIC: It’s not a story because she didn’t get it. If she had gotten it, this would have more legs, but they basically had her voluntarily withdraw from the process once the relationship got more serious or more involved or whatever. I mean, as far as scandals go, there’s no hookers, there’s no payments, there’s no, you know, this doesn’t rise to the level of juiciness.

KURTZ: Now you’ve zeroed in on it. Right. I just think that news organizations that have played this down have left themselves open to charges after the John Ensign story and after the Mark Sanford story that they’re a little bit less enthusiastic about Democratic scandals.

COTTLE: Eliot Spitzer? Come on. Eliot is everybody’s favorite.

KURTZ: Well, Eliot Spitzer broke the law!

COTTLE: Well, that’s it.

FRUM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -the Mayflower hotel, he may as well, he might as well done it in Grand Central Station.

KURTZ: There are examples on both sides.

First, kudos to Howard Kurtz for even bringing it up, nonetheless correctly referring to it as a “stunning lapse of judgment.” The thing is, this little tit-for-tat is likely more airtime for this story than we’ll see on any of the networks or cable shows today, save for Fox News, which reports far more equitably on philandering and corrupt politicians regardless of party affiliation.

The media, because of its tendency to list to the port side, doesn’t care a lick about facts. Liberals never do. They want emotion. They want juicy details. They want anything and everything which could possibly take away from fact and reality, which rarely fall in favor of their agenda. When all is said and done, however, party trumps extraordinary each and every time. After all, what’s more sleazy than being outed as Client No. 9? Or more shocking than explaining, with a shell-shocked loyal wife at your side, that you are a gay American? Or more sordid than denying an affair, then admitting an affair, then denying the existence of a love child, then preparing to admit the existence of a love child, all while your cancer-stricken, lovely wife appears on Oprah to promote her newest book?

At the very least, though, corruption should be corruption. Unfortunately, at least as far as matters of objectivity and fairness are concerned, Max Baucus nominating someone with whom he’s romantically involved to a position of oversight over himself–corruption if I’ve ever seen it–isn’t sleazy or shocking or sordid or Republican enough to attract the attention of a mainstream press so guided by ideology that it willingly ignores truth, responsibility and standards set forth by long gone stalwarts of a rapidly decaying industry.



  1. Boston Blackie says:

    Hear those crickets, they are coming from the lame stream media. If it were not so sad the hypocrisy would be laughable. Remember, the democRATS put the fun in disFUNctional.
    Jeff, you forgot Barney Frank as well. His former live in boyfriend was "hot bottoms" the male prostitute and his current live in boyfriend was arrested in Maine for growing pot. Frank said he didn't know what pot looked like. This is the guy running the banking committee on Capital Hill.

  2. Gail B says:

    "The media, because of its tendency to list to the port side, doesn't care a lick about facts."

    If the media were not so prone to drag anchor, this ship's position in the world would not have slipped as far as it has. It is the trimming effect to the starboard side of networks such as Fox News that has kept us from overturning, even as we slip!

    It would likely improve the morals of many liberal politicians to have them keelhauled in the press.

    Ahoy, Mate!

  3. GURGLE GURGLE says:

    List, hel*, this media is a kayak, completely upside down, and we're in some wicked whitewater.

  4. Gail B says:

    Kiss my stern, liberal media!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What kind of judgement do we want in a US Attorney??? not somebody that would crawl in the sack with Baucus.

  6. Anonymous says:


    My husband is a F___ing liberal. I read him what you said and he said "John Ensign, Mark Sanford and Larry Craig probably broke the law". He claims Baucus did not break any laws. What specific statues did he break, and what are the potenial penalities. He thinks you are just "a windbag". I NEED YOUR HELP! Last time I wrote some of your readers accused me of of not being sincere. I am sincere and would appreciate it if your readers not insult me.


  7. William A. Rose says:

    Gail B., you are just too funny! As for the keelhauling, can I help?



    Spitzer definitely broke the law. Clinton lied under oath. Sanford is up on ethics charges regarding personal use of state vehicles — nothing that Jim Hodges didn't do before him. Ensign, I really don't know. And Craig … well, what can you really say about Larry Craig?

    Hey, if I'm a windbag, I'm a windbag. But I'm a generally correct windbag, which is more than I can say for your hubby.

    Except for his taste in his spouse, of course.



    Pam, you can leave the adjective "F___" off of the word liberal…. it goes without saying.

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