Politico’s media criticism, No. 3

Third in a series of articles on Politico’s story “To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting.”

Read closely the today’s piece by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting.”

The co-authors place themselves squarely behind a strain of thought that the national media has overplayed the story of Mitt Romney’s high school bullying and underplayed Barack Obama’s marijuana use. The story criticizes the New York Times for burying new details on the pot-smoking days that emerged from David Maraniss’s new Obama biography. “ “[T]he Times made it a brief on A15,” lament VandeHei and Allen.

Leave aside the fact that we’ve known about the marijuana for some time.

Leave aside the fact that newspapers have a practice of burying scoops that don’t come from their own reporters.

Leave aside the fact that no matter where a newspaper places a story in print, it can’t bury it on the web.

The unfortunate implication of the VandeHei-Allen analysis is that somehow the pot smoking and the bullying should get equal treatment, or at least comparable treatment. And they shouldn’t. Smoking pot is illegal and generally not the most efficient path to advancement in this world.

Bullying schoolmate by pinning him down and cutting his hair is not only illegal but hateful, violent and destructive. Highlighting such behavior is particularly relevant in this age, when educators across the country are battling against schoolyard bullying.

By any journalistic measure, coercive high-school barbering deserves a higher word count than high-school marijuana use. These behaviors defy equivalency and ill-serve a story arguing for a slanted media treatment of the candidates.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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