The Daily Caller's Amanda Carey details the "Rise of conservative displeasure over Politico/NBC debate," quoting several conservative activists who worry (or pretend to worry) that Republican presidential candidates won't be treated fairly in a debate hosted by Politico and NBC.
Carey quotes conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: "Can we be honest? They are all liberals. All of them. Not one of the questioners that could or would be proposed by Politico or NBC would be remotely in touch with the cares, concerns, and passions of the GOP's primary electorate." And Grover Norquist: "All the debates should be open to the media, but they should be held for the purpose of letting Republicans explain to Republicans why they should vote for them in the primary. … Instead, we'll get nitpicking from left-of-center journalists asking questions that will impress their fellow journalists." And Mark Levin: "There's no question that Politico and NBC are leftist and I'm not excited about their participation."
As usual, Media Research Center Brent Bozell out-shrilled them all: "When, oh when will Republicans learn? Every four years the presidential debate season takes place. Republicans dutifully line up for debates moderated by liberal 'moderators' except there's nothing moderate about these moderators who mercilessly attack them."
If this really takes place "every four years," there should be plenty of examples. And yet neither Carey nor anyone she quoted offered a single example of inappropriate questioning during debates moderated by Politico or NBC journalists. Certainly no "merciless attacks."
In fact, Carey never got around to mentioning that both Politico and NBC participated in GOP presidential debates during the 2008 campaign. This being the Daily Caller, it is of course possible that neither Carey nor her editors are aware of this basic fact, and that neither thought to check. And this being the Daily Caller, it's also possible Carey never mentioned those debates because they completely undermine the inane premise that Politico and NBC would attack Republican candidates during a debate.
Consider the May 3, 2007 Republican presidential debate moderated by Chris Matthews and Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei. Matthews kicked things off by asking Rudy Giuliani "Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's morning in America?" Then he moved on to John McCain: "Let me go to Senator McCain. We're in the house of Ronald Reagan. Every cab driver in America knew what Ronald Reagan stood for: defeat communism abroad; reduce big government at home. Can you, Senator McCain, restore that kind of unity of purpose?" That, apparently, is what Brent Bozell considers a merciless attack: Asking Republicans if they'll be like Reagan.
Later in the debate, Matthews invited the Republican candidates to "mention a tax you'd like to cut, in addition to the Bush tax cuts, keeping them in effect." He never asked how they'd pay for those tax cuts -- though during a Democratic debate a week earlier, NBC's Brian Williams demanded to know how the Democratic candidates would pay for their health care proposals (while never actually asking them to explain the proposals.)
That wasn't the only double-standard apparent in those two debates. During the Democratic debate, Brian Williams asked Barack Obama a loaded question about his personal finances -- a question that managed to smear the other Democrats on stage as well. A week later, Matthews, VandeHei and Harris failed to ask the Republicans a single question about their business dealings, personal finances, or ties to controversial figures. Those types of questions were reserved for Democrats only -- and this in spite of the fact that Giuliani's close relationship with the breathtakingly crooked Bernie Kerik was very much in the news.
The last time NBC and Politico participated in presidential debates, they lobbed softballs to the Republicans and held Democrats to a higher standard of fiscal responsibility. That's just a fact. It's what happened. And so, in whining about NBC and Politico participating in a 2011 Republican debate, the Daily Caller, Brent Bozell, and several other conservative media critics don't mention a single thing about those 2007 debates. Because conservative media criticism isn't about reality, it's about blind hatred of the media -- and about working the refs.