The main complaint you heard from conservative media outlets in the 2008 campaign and its aftermath was that the mainstream media was rooting for and insufficiently interested in vetting candidate Barack Obama. The point was well taken. But are these same critics any better when it comes to Texas Gov. Rick Perry?
The conservative media has not exactly covered itself in glory. The reaction to The Post’s story on the racist-labeled rock on Perry’s hunting grounds is a case in point. Not only was it circle the wagons time, the facts were repeatedly and blatantly misstated.
Jim Geraghty of National Review decried at length the double standard for conservatives on matters of race. (That refrain was prevalent on Twitter.) “Every major Democrat in public life has made controversial comments about race; it’s probably a natural consequence of speaking extemporaneously about the topic in front of television cameras. But that benefit of the doubt is rarely if ever extended to a Republican official.” Every one? Is the sign on the rock simply “controversial”?
But to his credit, and unlike nearly all the conservative reaction, he acknowledged, “On the other hand, I also hate this story because it’s not the sort of thing that most of us could easily explain. Most of our families don’t have secluded hunting camps. Most of us have never had a family place named something so shocking, so most of us can’t relate to the situation Perry is in. I imagine most of us would feel a bit mortified having any connection to a place named that, or something like that.”
Other commentators just had the facts wrong. Many asserted the allegations that the sign remained visible into the 1990’s were all anonymous. Not so. Others said as a factual matter Perry’s father had painted over the sign when he first got the property in the early 1980’s. But that is precisely what is being contradicted by multiple witnesses.
There are legitimate critiques of potential eyewitness accounts, including the difficulty in recalling WHEN something occurred. (Who hasn’t argued with her spouse, “What do you mean we haven’t visited your mother in ten years- we went three years ago!”?) But to declare none of this matters, just keep on walking, suggests a lack of seriousness by the right blogosphere. If the story is true it’s a significant issue; if not it isn’t. Is that not acceptable parlance on the right?
Conservatives can bemoan the MSM double standard for conservatives all they like. But suck it up, fellas, it has always been so. And in a real way that is a blessing. Conservatives are more thoroughly vetted and must be more disciplined than liberals because the former get very little slack. They self-vet to a greater degree than liberal counterparts. That generally forces conservatives to abide by a higher standard than their liberal counterparts. Fair? No. A long term benefit to the movement and the country? Yes.