We owe a great debt of gratitude to Michael Schaffer.
The senior editor at Politico admitted out loud Friday what most of us already knew. Namely that the media plays favorites with the candidates they cover despite their laughable claims of neutrality. Schaffer’s admission of blatant media coverage bias appeared in his piece “Washington’s Favorite Republican Is Making All the Right Moves.”
And who is currently “Washington’s favorite Republican,” you ask? Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan? Nope! Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.
As we shall see, this is not exactly an enviable position to be in. But before we get to the inevitable downside, let us read Schaffer explain why the media accolades (for now) being poured upon Sununu as the “runaway winner” of “[t]he Permanent-Washington Primary,” adding he’s “making all the right moves” to win “the GOP base’s most despised demographic” in “the hearts and minds and television bookings and annual dinner invites of that Beltway-media-industrial complex.”
Schaffer continues to explain why the warm media embrace (for now) of Sununu. Spoiler alert: He’s a yes-man for the press (click “expand”):
Showing up on schmoozy, talky media platforms? Check: Sununu just hit network Sunday talk shows an impressive three weeks in a row last month. If you don’t count the shows on conservative networks, that’s three more times than fellow Republican not-quite-candidates Ron DeSantis, Mike Pompeo and Tim Scott managed in the entire previous year. For those who like to witness their high-minded gabbing in the flesh, the Atlantic announced yesterday that Sununu will appear, along with a roster of notables including Nancy Pelosi and Brad Raffensberger, at a “Future of Democracy” session the venerable publication is organizing at this month’s South by Southwest festival.
Punching right against Republican ultras? No doubt: In media appearances, Sununu reliably distances himself from culture warriors, election deniers and anyone who would wink at political violence like last year’s attack on Paul Pelosi. Book the New Hampshire governor on a Beltway interview show or make him the subject of a lengthy profile in an elite publication and you’ll hear him deride Trumpism as an electoral “loser” or denounce the Republican “echo chamber.” But he’s also apt to make somewhat less familiar critiques — decrying the failures of the 2017-2018 GOP political trifecta, say, or taking a “Face the Nation” shot at Ron DeSantis, whose battle with Disney over the firm’s allegedly woke priorities he described as “the worst precedent in the world” (because it violates free-market principles).
As you read this warm smooching of Sununu you can almost hear the warning refrain of “You’ll be sorry!” which Schaffer finally hints at (emphasis added):
As the favorite Republican of institutional Washington, Sununu joins some august company: People like former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich once occupied the spot. But it was truly defined by the late Sen. John McCain, who melded purported straight talk, an accommodating team of media schedulers and a willingness to decry his own party’s wacko birds to turn himself into a Beltway crush for the ages.
What Schaffer conveniently neglected to mention is that John McCain, who was held up by much of the media a “maverick” willing to “decry his own party’s wacko birds,” was slammed as soon as he was nominated for president in 2008 as some sort of monster in comparison to the media’s beloved Barack Obama.
So enjoy the media praise for criticizing fellow Republicans for now, Chris Sununu. But if you were ever able to attain the nomination as McCain did, that same “Beltway-media-industrial complex” would instantly turn on you like vipers.
That’s the sad, sad truth that Michael Schaffer left out.