How would the media handle it if a Republican aide was caught sexting?

Once again, media outlets outside the Clinton orbit are reporting Anthony Weiner has been caught sending bare-chested pictures and sexy messages to a 15-year-old girl. The media used to make excuses for his wife Huma Abedin, who positively everyone describes as Hillary’s unofficial daughter and close enough to her that she could be a hip accessory. But if we switched the party affiliation of the offender, would the media stay quiet — say, if Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s husband was the one having a grossly inappopriate relationship with a high school girl? 

Everyone knows this would never happen. For starters, conservatives talk publicly of defending the innocence of children, even today’s socially savvy teenagers. So there’s the hypocrisy angle. On the other hand, Clinton-backing liberals are the last people to moralize about creepy middle-aged men crushing on women young enough to be their daughters. (Especially if they wear berets to look hip.) 

Here’s what would never happen.  No liberal political reporter like Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post would lecture “No one really knows what goes on in marriages. I’ll not stand in judgment on the dynamic of their relationship.”

No New York Times veteran like Mark Leibovich would rush in to say this will never sink in with voters: “Okay, the Republican nominee’s top aide is married to someone who, you know, does some pervy things on the internet. I don’t think we’re going to use that to think that somehow that person’s wife’s boss is irresponsible and shouldn’t be elected.  I mean, I don’t see that as a resonant issue.”

People magazine would not gush over the wronged spouse with supportive quotes. “Kellyanne has a very strong moral character, and she made a commitment for better or worse,” according to a longtime friend. “She never wanted her four kids to say to her, ‘Why didn’t you do everything you could to help Dad?'” There would be no sentence like “Raised Catholic, Conway was determined to give her children an intact home and to not keep her husband, whom she has frequently said is a great father, from seeing his children.” He would not be described as “very attentive” to his wife as well as ‘bright and funny.”

They won’t find a Republican mega-donor to add that Conway will “put her life together in a meaningful way” because “she does have uncommon grace and intelligence. She’s never maintained herself with anything but dignity.”

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All this implausible, ineffective positive spin has actually been employed by these media titans on Huma Abedin’s behalf. As Chris Plante says when he talks about liberal media treatment of scandals, “It sure is good to be a Democrat.”  

Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis and co-author (with Brent Bozell) of “Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election and How to Stop Them From Doing It In 2016.”


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