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The uneven playing field in covering presidential politics
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Newt Gingrich is out of the presidential race, but perhaps the lasting contribution of his run is that he so well illustrated just how "in the tank" the national media is for Barack Obama. He called them on their protection of him - which is embarrassingly obvious - and the people gave him "atta boys" in response.

Gingrich received a near standing ovation on Jan. 19 when he issued a scathing rebuke of CNN's John King, who made the first question of the presidential debate one about his failed marriage. "I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate," Gingrich lashed out at King. He went on to say "the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that."

Looking rather sheepish, King reminded Gingrich that it was ABC News broke the salacious story that had Marianne Gingrich accusing her ex-husband of requesting an open marriage. Gingrich rejected King's explanation, saying, "Don't try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it."

Gingrich's point is well taken. The media goes out of its way in its attempt to embarrass conservatives (Gingrich, Palin, Santorum and Bachmann) while fawning over liberals like Obama.

The latest attempt to pull out all the stops to slam Mitt Romney - the only man who threatens an Obama second term - is a New York Times article that reaches into Romney's college days in 1965 in an attempt to portray him as a snotty rich brat who made life hard for at least two students, one who was possibly gay. The article coincidentally came out the day after Obama suddenly found a new awakening on gay marriage - as if that wasn't engineered to win back his base. (Odd how the media terms in wholesale fashion Obama's flip-flop as his "evolution," as if he previously had a Neanderthal attitude toward gay marriage.) The NYT article suggests that Romney held the door shut for a blind student and hazed a student, John Lauber, whose unorthodox appearance was out of step for the 1960s and who was likely gay. Romney said "homosexuality was the furthest thing from his mind" when it came to the jokes he played on classmates but apologized for being human - and sometimes stupid - as a kid. Christine Lauber, the sister of the late alleged victim Lauber, called the story incorrect and stated "we are aggrieved that he (Romney's former classmate, Phillip Maxwell) would be used to further a political agenda."

The same media elite played up the fact that Romney secured the family dog to the roof of the car when it made a 1983 vacation journey from Massachusetts to Canada. The media, of course, will grasp at straws to taint the reputation of near squeaky clean Romney. At least dog lovers now are thinking what a heartless cruel SOB to treat a dog that way. Never mind that Romney said his dog loved to ride that way.

If the media behaved toward Obama as they did toward Romney, you would have seen a big deal made about Obama eating dog meat as a child in Indonesia. If Romney's college hazing is relevant in the 2012 presidential campaign, why isn't Obama's drug use as a young man? In his book "Dreams from My Father," Obama admits: "I had learned not to care. I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it." Four years ago, why did it require right-leaning talk show hosts to report that Obama in recent years sat in a church where Rev. Jeremiah Wright condemned America as the US of KKKA" and stated "no, no, no, not God bless America, God d----d America"? Why has the mainstream media failed to investigate allegations that Obama had membership in a Chicago homosexual men's club, Man's Country? And that openly gay associates of Obama - Larry Bland and Nate Spencer - were both murdered execution-style in late 2007 as Obama rose in politics? If this were Romney's past, the national media would bend over backwards to make it election year campaign fodder.

If that's all they have on Romney, expect them to manufacture more "news" to taint his reputation.

Can you imagine if you and I had to continually answer to our past indiscretions when it came time for job interviews? "Mr. Benziger, I am afraid that we found out that you pulled the wings off of moths when you were seven years old and living in Modesto in 1968. We have a friend who swears he saw you do so. We don't tolerate - nor do we condone - cruelty to animals. We're sorry but we don't want someone like you working for our company." Or, "It's come to our attention, Jeff, that in 1979 you had on one occasion raced up Santa Fe Avenue at a speed of 100 mph in your 1974 Camaro and actually risked the life of your passenger. Despite that your driving record is now clean, this 33-year-old incident makes us wonder about the clarity of your judgment. We're sorry."

This country has real issues, such as a failed economy, a massive federal overspending problem and an overzealous environmental policy that halts any progress in the area of energy, water and jobs. Let's focus on what candidates propose to get our nation on track rather than what candidates did while in college. But if they do want to focus on any past character defects, let them do it across the board.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at