Double Standard

September 13, 2000

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial documents what most viewers have probably noticed long ago: that there is a media double standard in covering the presidential campaign. While the focus of the editorial is on George Bush and Al Gore, the same could be said about the coverage of other campaigns as well.

When George Bush said that his favorite philosopher was "Christ," the press criticized him for pandering to the religious right. In other words, he really didn't mean it. But now Joe Lieberman has been talking about his religious faith. The media have been writing long, thoughtful treatises about the role of religion in politics. And even if the press criticizes him, they at least assume that he is sincere. In other words, he does mean what he says.

Another example would be the recent TV spot by George Bush attacking Al Gore's credibility. Reporters immediately labeled it as "going negative" in response to Mr. Gore's rise in the polls. But what about the week-long TV Democratic ads hammering Mr. Bush on his Texas record? What about the attacks on his running mate's 15-year-old voting record? These were never labeled as negative. The Wall Street Journal again sees evidence of a double standard.

A third example would be the debates about the debate. The press calls Mr. Bush's attempt to break from the Commission on Presidential Debates as an attempt to avoid debating. Yet when Al Gore rejected the idea of debating Mr. Bush on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "Larry King Live" the press did not call that an attempt to avoid debating.

The point to all of this is simple: we must be discerning viewers and readers. Every person has a bias (or world view). That will be reflected in what we see, hear, and read. A discerning voter should work to see through bias and double standard.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.