Al Gore didn't lie about his connection to "Love Story," or the Internet, or Love Canal, etc. But you wouldn't have known it from reading the mainstream press in 2000. The theme was simple: Gore was a sighing dissembler. George Bush was a good ol' cowboy and a compassionate conservative. Seven years too late, the lousy media work in 2000 gets some examination from Vanity Fair.
As Eric Alterman commented this week, though, it's too little too late.
And as The Daily Howler explores daily in great detail, it's happening again. For example: Minute inspection of Hillary Clinton's campaign contributors, none of Mitt Romney's.
A big winner so far this year, to name one example of how shallow press narratives can be powerfully important, is Mike Huckabee. You know, he's the Republican candidate the major media have decreed is a funny, nice guy with the fresh ideas. He can be all those things. But you don't have to dig very far in the local clips to find leaden, tasteless quips; peevish and mean-spirited attacks on enemies, and inch-deep ideas that don't withstand careful inspections (fair tax, preventive health care as a solution to lack of health insurance, etc.) But if the press gives him the treatment it gave George Bush's military record, there's no telling how far he can go. Right now, it looks good for The Huckster.
It's all about Beltway group think, magnified 1,440 minutes a day on multiple cable channels. It's further magnified this cycle by the press corps' general hatred of Hillary Clinton. When even Democrats say they don't think Hillary can win, they really mean that major media will do everything they can to make sure that she doesn't. And that's not far off the mark.