Politico's VandeHei and Allen report on GOP cries of "blatant bias," adoringly quoting Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer and observing that "Republicans cry 'bias' so often it feels like a campaign theme:"
It is, largely because it fires up conservatives and diminishes the punch of legitimate investigative or narrative journalism. But it also is because it often rings true, even to people who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh...
Not that it is true, mind you--just that it supports their persecution complex. At American Prospect, Paul Waldman points out that working the refs continues to work for the Right:
VandeHei and Allen's article is a masterpiece of unsupported claims, false equivalences, speculations about what news stories "imply," and Republican complaints taken not as complaints but as truths. [...]
Let's examine this, shall we? The bias charge, they say, "often rings true." But is it true? Well, that's a complex question, so why bother trying to answer it at all? It feels true, so that's good enough. The "imbalance" in coverage, which has been alleged by Republicans but we don't know is actually true, is nevertheless doing "unmistakable damage to Romney." Really? Any evidence for that? Nah, but it sure feels true.
Media Matters explains what 'liberal bias' claims are really about, snarking "Republicans? Alleging liberal media bias? Pardon me while I find some pearls to clutch:"
The conceit behind this whole affair is that Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer told Allen and VandeHei that "liberal bias" is real and it's devastating, and Allen and Vandehei believe them...
People who level the "bias" charge aren't looking for balance. They're not interested in journalistic good practices and they certainly don't give a damn where a story appears in the Washington Post. They're looking to game the refs.
It's all about discouraging journalists from turning a critical eye on Republicans and conservatives, lest they be tarred with the "liberal bias" epithet.
Salon calls the Politico article a "deeply stupid piece" that "could be the latest installment of Breitbart's whiny, posthumous 'Nobody Vetted Obama So We Have to Do It, By Printing Stuff We Know is False!' investigative series." It's useful to remind ourselves that these same "liberal media" outlets haven't given Obama a week of positive coverage in almost a year (h/t: Eric Boehlert), as the conservative "cottage industry" of media grievance "that pays the bills for talk radio, fills endless hours of commentary on Fox News, and produces content for right-wing authors" remains dominant. Pew studied the media from January to early April this year, concluding the following:
Of all the presidential candidates studied in this report, only one figure did not have a single week in 2012 when positive coverage exceeded negative coverage--the incumbent, Democrat Barack Obama. [...]
While Republicans have jockeyed for their party's nomination for the last year, the Democratic president has been hammered with negative press coverage. And it's coverage whose harsh tone has been matched only by its week-in and week-out consistency.
Behold the liberal media.
James Fallows examines Pew's research into press coverage of Obama and Romney, noting that "At no time in the past year has coverage of President Obama been as positive as that of Governor Romney:"
Indeed, at no time in the past year has it been on-balance positive at all.
You can argue that negative coverage of the administration is justified. You can argue that incumbents are -- and should be -- held to a tougher standard, since they have a record to defend. But you can't sanely argue that the press is in the tank for Obama, notwithstanding recent "false equivalence" attempts to do so.