Media bias or biased about the media?

Ethan: Two weeks ago you began taking us down a road regarding hypocrisy in our political system about how President Barack Obama is treated. Care to elaborate?

Phil: Sure. Here’s one example: Obama writes in his book that he has eaten dog meat. Meanwhile, the press assails Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney as cruel to dogs because his dog rode in a container on the roof of his car.

Ethan: You equate Obama being fed dog meat as a child in Indonesia with an adult strapping their dog to the roof of a car for 12 hours? Have you lost your mind? You sound like conservative political commentator Sean Hannity.

Phil: Before you paint me as extreme, pause, inhale and put yourself in my shoes.

Ethan: In the words of Bill Clinton, “I never inhaled.”

Phil: More like, as many say of California Gov. Jerry Brown, “You never exhaled.” Do you remember the media barbecuing Romney for holding assets in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands? Why is it that we now hear no similar objections to Jack Lew, Obama’s new secretary of the treasury, who also invested there? No media barbecue. Not even a single spare rib. 

Ethan: You don’t think the difference is that one was running for president, as opposed to cabinet secretary? Or that Romney had invested millions through 138 different offshore accounts, as opposed to one $56,000 investment that lost money? Or that Romney was being effusive about his tax returns, as opposed to the other having fully disclosed the investment years ago? Look, as our good friend and premiere political guru Dennis Bailey says, “When politicians start blaming newspapers for their problems, the death spiral has begun.”

Phil: Good friend, yes. Politically liberal, yes. Former newspaper writer, yes. Perhaps his lesson is that when the death spiral begins, the press silently begins to claim victory that another believer of small, limited government has been defeated.

Ethan: English, please.

Phil: You need me to speak more slowly? Let me put it this way. If you’re a Republican running for president…

Ethan: Stop! I am never going to be a Republican, nor am I ever going to run for president.

Phil: Sigh. You are so amusing. As I was saying, according to your logic, if someone is a Republican running for president, legal investments in the Cayman Islands are bad. If you are a Democrat being appointed to the most powerful financial position on the planet, investing in the Cayman Islands is good. Got it.

Ethan: Not good either way, but since he was just confirmed with the help of 17 Republican senators, it seems many in your party don’t see the media bias either. Next?

Phil: Talk to me about media bias regarding water-boarding and drones. One seeks information, the other assassination.

Ethan: Huh? While I certainly think both drones and torture have real moral consequences for America, most people think torture is bad but drone strikes make us safer. In fact, 54 percent of Americans have said that drone strikes are OK, with only 18 percent saying they aren’t. Perhaps you can say the American people are hypocrites, but you can’t blame the media for that.

Phil: Bush uses water-boarding to obtain information that prevented terror. The American public doesn’t like it, so the media hammers him. Polls show drones authorized by Obama to assassinate terrorists are OK. Media takes a pass. Since when did the media decide to only be critical when the American people want them to?

Ethan: Not sure where you are seeing the media “take a pass” on drones. I just did a Google search of “Obama wrong on drones,” and I got 703,000 hits. Everyone from Fox News to The Nation to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is attacking him.

Phil: Try Googling “Bush wrong on torture,” and tell me what you see. How about sequestration? The president comes up with the idea, and now he blames Republicans. Has the media called him on it?

Ethan: You see media bias in the way sequestration is playing out? Do you see dead people as well?

Phil: Bob Woodard is the only D.C. reporter honestly telling the real story on sequestration — that it was Obama’s idea. Most all other reporters are helping the president portray his across-the-board cuts as a Republican-inflicted crisis.

Ethan: Boy, you really know a side has lost an argument when they start sounding like an elementary school kid: “It was Bobby’s idea for me to put glue in Sally’s hair!” Look, they all voted for it. They all own it. No one in America cares who came up with it. That’s why only Fox News and House Speaker John “I got 98 percent of what I wanted in this budget” Boehner are fixated on the controversy.

Phil: So you have spent this column insinuating that I’m just seeing things that are not there. That the media has it straight down the middle. It’s all about me blaming the media.  So the fact that liberals outnumber conservatives three- or four-to-one in the media is of no relevance?

Ethan: Not sure if it has relevance or not. Most doctors are Republicans, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do surgery without bias. For me to accept your theory, I need evidence, and so far I haven’t seen anything but anecdotes.

Phil: Let me leave you with this. First Lady Michelle Obama presented the Oscar for Best Picture to “Argo” about the CIA rescue in 1980 of our diplomats in Iran. Isn’t it interesting how little is reported about how Obama took no action to save our ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, nor the crony capitalism Hollywood received from Obama in the form of massive new tax loopholes?

Ethan: Honestly, do you see dead people?