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Does the media unfairly dissect Romney — and go easy on Obama?
In a controversial article, Politico accuses fellow news outlets of squashing stories that reflect badly on Obama while scrounging for any bit of dirt on Romney
Mitt Romney is surrounded by press in New Hampshire: Republicans complain that big national papers like The New York Times and Washington Post unfairly target Romney for personal exposes.
Mitt Romney is surrounded by press in New Hampshire: Republicans complain that big national papers like The New York Times and Washington Post unfairly target Romney for personal exposes.
Rick Friedman/Corbis

"Republicans are livid with the early coverage of the 2012 general election campaign," say Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico. The New York Times has published a front-page article on Ann Romney's horse-riding hobby — implying that the Romneys are "silly rich" and "a tad shady" — but buried revelations that Obama was a shameless high-school pothead inside the A section. Similarly, The Washington Post went big with an article "that hit Mitt Romney for bullying a kid who might have been gay," an incident "invested with far more significance than it merited." (Both the Times and the Post have aggressively pushed back against Politico's claims, and the influential website has been accused of publishing an "astonishingly bad piece of reporting."Politico's controversial article has renewed an always-polarizing discussion about whether the media has failed to vet Obama. Is the media really protecting Obama?

The media is clearly in love with Obama: "Good on Allen and Vandehei to state the obvious here," says Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard. The Politico piece "generously lets prominent Republicans air some pretty legitimate complaints." Just don't expect The Times and The Post "to be chastened into providing balanced coverage of the candidates."
"Politico: The media sure are biased toward Obama, aren' they?"

Huh? The media has vetted Obama extensively: Turn back the clock to Obama's first presidential run, says David Weigel at Slate, and you'll find a slew of in-depth stories about Obama's personal life. In 2007, The Times published a massive story investigating Jeremiah Wright — "with additional reporting from Kenya!" In 2008, The Times reported an even larger story about Obama's ties to Bill Ayers and other members of the Weather Underground, an extremist anti-war group. The idea that the big media organizations have downplayed dubious aspects of Obama's past "doesn't have any quantitative, factual proof."
"Politico's 'vetting' flop"

And the media continues to probe Obama: Politico's piece came "the day after one of its targets, The Times, published an astonishing expose about Obama's personal oversight of a terrorist 'kill list,'" says Devin Gordon at GQ. "In what universe is that not vetting?" Politico argues that media outlets focus too heavily on "silly stuff about the Romney family," but then ignores examples of the media exposing "truly important stuff like Obama's record on national security." The message from Politico is clear: "Less 'kill list,' more pot-smoking, OK?"
"Five points about Politico's hatchet job on NYT and WaPo"

Plus, Politico is being incredibly hypocritical: Politico must be joking, says John Cook at Gawker. If VandeHei and Allen believe we need "more serious, measured, balanced, non-inflammatory reporting" on things that "are relevant to assessing a candidate's readiness for office" — and that everything else is mere voyeurism — how on Earth do they explain Politico stories on "Obama's use of 'Black English,'" his teleprompter reliance, and his "flashed irritation" in the press room. Politico is hardly a leader in "soberly assessing Barack Obama's readiness for office."
"Don't read Politico, urge Politico editors"

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