Current TV correspondent David Shuster on Sunday schooled a conservative Washington Post blogger for suggesting that President Barack Obama’s use of marijuana as a kid should be covered by the media like presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s alleged bullying of a gay student in 1965.
During an appearance on CNN, Washington Post “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin defended an assertion by Politico’s Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen that the media was treating Romney unfairly by reporting on his current wealth and stories of past questionable behavior.
“We’re not covering Barack Obama’s performance,” Rubin told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “We’re not going back to see whether his economic policies actually worked.”
“It’s interesting that Politico would say that without any sources,” Shuster argued. “And then the sources that they do cite, [former Bush spokesman] Ari Fleischer and [Ex-Republican National Committee Chairman] Haley Barbour. They never mention the Pew nonpartisan study which found that President Obama has never received more favorable coverage than Mitt Romney. … This arguament bout bias, it’s just the usual B.S. from Republicans who are trying for political purposes to gin up their base. I give them credit: It’s smart politics, but it’s bunk.”
Kurtz pointed out that Politico saw bias because Washington Post story about Obama’s past marijuana use was less prominently featured than a story about Romney pinning a gay student to the ground and cutting his hair while he was in prep school.
“David’s wrong,” Rubin insisted. “I’ve written multiple posts — within the Washington Post, they give me a lot of running room there — on all the stories they’re not covering, on all the analysis they are not doing of the last four years.”
“Jennifer, you just wrote a commentary saying that Barack Obama is poison for the Democratic Party,” Shuster interrupted. “You’re not exactly a neutral observer in this. You’re entitled to write whatever you want, but to suggest that you’re the arbiter of anti-bias is a little bit strange.”
“Whether I’m biased or not, the Post isn’t covering those ten stories,” Rubin shot back.
Shuster replied: “Do you believe there’s an equivalency between Mitt Romney as a teenager forcibly cutting the hair of a gay kid who was crying and wailing — and he can’t remember that — and you say there’s an equivalency between that Barack Obama’s details about smoking pot, most of the marijuana details and the pot smoking we knew years ago. You say there’s an equivalency in how the media should treat those stories?”
“I say they’re both irrelevant,” Rubin explained. “And they should get on with the true issues. The president has an interest in not having the media examine his record and the media is playing along. They are throwing out one shiny object, one irrelevant story after another.”
“Well, quick point, which is that one of the reasons that the stories about Obama’s drug consumption, so forth as a college student as a young man, haven’t had the impact is that he told that himself in his autobiography,” Kurtz noted.
A recent study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism determined that Romney’s coverage was twice as favorable as Obama’s between January and April. Romney’s coverage was 39 percent positive during that period, while Obama’s coverage was only 18 percent positive.
“That means Romney’s depiction by the media was more than twice as positive as the president’s,” Kurtz wrote in April. “So much for liberal bias.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast June 10, 2012.