Do the media give equal time to Democrat and Republican recreants seeking the nation's highest office? That's the question posed in the latest issue of the liberal Washington Monthly magazine and making the rounds on liberal blogs such as Alternet.org.
Writer Steve Benen asks whether the oft-besmirched so-called liberal media will spend as much time and energy covering the adulterous pasts of top Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani as these outlets spend on the foibles of the Clinton marriage.
Benen posits the New York Times (itself often besmirched by conservatives as a liberal rag) overdid it with a recent front-page article on the Clinton marriage. Benen, a former Clinton White House intern, wrote that the Times article "contained no real news, few named sources, and plenty of gossip masquerading as political coverage."
The question is important, but one wonders whether the comparison is even worth making, or making in that way. Unlike McCain, Gingrich, and Giuliani, Sen. Hillary Clinton, so far as we know, is not an adulteress. The proper question is whether the media would give any play to charges of adultery by McCain's and others' current or former spouses. Methinks the answer to that question is, they'd be one-day stories at best. And, to make a completely "fair and balanced" comparison, their spouses would have to qualify as ex-presidents. So far as we know, no Republican presidential contender is married to an ex-president.