Press Hit for `Double Standard' on Vice-Presidential Hopefuls
Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Joe is a centrist, independent thinker and consensus builder with a heart. Not only did he castigate President Clinton's affair, but he's the first Jew on the ticket and that's historic.
But Dick, he's a staunch conservative, a portly relic of the far right, rhetoric-spewing Gingrichian past. A long record of public service and a quiet, thoughtful manner make him the Washington-savvy grown-up on a ticket led by a son looking to get even.
This is the media portrayal that has emerged so far of the two vice presidential hopefuls, Republican ex-Rep. Richard B. Cheney and Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.
Both men, despite their integrity and experience, won't escape these labels as the 2000 race heats up, some media observers say.
"These are perceptions grounded in cement," says L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of the conservative Media Research Center.
"A liberal Democrat who bucks the orthodoxy on one issue becomes a centrist automatically, whereas a liberal Republican who bucks his party on one issue becomes a maverick. It's just the echo chamber," he said. "If you look at their voting records, Cheney is just as conservative as Lieberman is liberal. It's the same old double standards."
The reporting inequities have been going on for the past 15 years, when the media gave up on calling itself nonpartisan and seriously gave in to its liberal leanings, says Ted J. Smith, a professor of mass communication at Virginia Commonwealth University.
This year, "the coverage has been grossly slanted, as we would expect," Mr. Smith said.
"For anybody who has really been tracking it very closely, Mr. Cheney has been dismissed by a variety of writers as just another boring, middle-aged white middle-class male. Also hard right-wing," he added.
"I noted today that CNN's `Headline News' for the second day running has been about the historic ticket and we have the absurdities of a Northeastern liberal being continuously described as a moderate or even a conservative," Mr. Smith said.
Matthew Felling, media director at the Center for Media and Public Affairs, says that so far, all coverage of Mr. Lieberman has been deferential, but at the same time, one-dimensional.
"It's fascinating to see how upon announcing Cheney, the issue was his political views," he said.
After word got out Monday of Vice President Al Gore's choice of Mr. Lieberman, the coverage focused on his being an observant Orthodox Jew.
"It's an interesting contrast for someone who has a long record of achievements in the political arena," Mr. Felling said. …