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Different Party, Different Coverage

February 21st, 2007

About a week and a half ago, the mainstream media went into high gear to play the right-wing’s fantasies about Nancy Pelosi “demanding” a very large and luxurious jet so she could ferry around her contributors, cronies and lobbyists. Of course, it turns out that the entire story was a completely fabricated lie based upon nothing more than the unimpeachable House Sergeant-at-Arms requesting a jet for Pelosi that could fly non-stop to San Francisco, thus avoiding security problems with unexpected layovers. The press, however, just went with the right-wing version of it, and went with it big. The lie was aimed at making Pelosi seem like some prima donna who didn’t want to demean herself to flying with the lowly public.

Certainly the media would act in exactly the same way if a major Republican figure were to be caught in a similar fiasco? Right? Right?

Well, guess what? It now looks like the newest Republican front-runner for the 2008 presidential race, Rudy Giuliani, has his own hot story involving a jet and demands for luxurious perks–and the media is studiously ignoring it. Right now, it’s running on The Smoking Gun web site. While I am not sure if it has been verified as 100% true yet, the media didn’t wait around for the Pelosi story to be verified, and The Smoking Gun has a pretty good track record on this kind of thing.

The five-page contract which outlines Giuliani’s requirements for his $100,000 speaking engagement includes an option for a private jet, and the agreement emphasizes in bold lettering that “the private aircraft MUST BE a Gulfstream IV or bigger.” Giuliani also demands a “pre-registered, large two bedroom, non-smoking suite with a king-size bed, on an upper floor, with a balcony and view if applicable.” In addition, four other rooms on the same floor are demanded for Giuliani’s entourage. Giuliani specifies exactly what sort of photographs may be taken (“without flash bulbs”), and that no “candid” shots be taken.

So, is the media going into a frenzy over the juicy details? Are they reporting for days on end about how Giuliani is a glutton for opulence and considers himself above the rest of us? The answer is, in a nutshell, no. One or two stories ran (Raw Story and NY Daily News) in major media outlets. That’s it. Google News produces a list of nearly a thousand stories when searching for “Pelosi jet,” but almost nothing on Giuliani’s story appears.

Now, I am not suggesting that Giuliani is out of line for demanding what he does. He’s a big name, and big names can draw big speaking fees with all sorts of great perks. Nothing wrong with that.

But the issue here is parity. A fabricated lie about the Democratic Speaker of the House (who is not running for anything at the moment) demanding a jet is swarmed over by the media, primarily on the basis that Pelosi is being a diva and insisting on swanky, queen-bee perks; a more-likely-true leak about Giuliani demanding a jet with his own classy perks is virtually ignored–despite the fact that this guy just announced that he’s running for president and is considered one of two front-runners for his party’s ticket. Yes, the Pelosi jet story concerned use of public funds–but that was not what the stories zeroed in on, rather it was Pelosi acting imperiously and demanding lavishness.

The clear conclusion, of course, is that there is nothing close to parity in the coverage here. It’s just that damned liberal media, at it again.

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  1. Paul
    February 21st, 2007 at 16:40 | #1

    Um, Luis… hogwash. There’s a huge difference here, and you ought to know it.

    What Pelosi was being (falsely) accused of was essentially using her position/power to get that airplane from the taxpayers.

    Giuliani, on the other hand, is setting his price for private speaking engagements.

    Don’t get me wrong- the Pelosi story was a load of crap.

    But at the heart, the reason Giuliani’s demand (or request or whatever) isn’t a big deal is because he’s not doing it to the taxpayers, and he’s not holding a public office and using/abusing power/position/privlege.

    It’s not a Dem vs Republican thing this time around; it’s just not news for a private speaker to be all high and mighty about their private jet. (A G-IV is a heck of a jet, BTW.)

    You’re usually right, but I think you’re wrong on this one.


  2. Luis
    February 21st, 2007 at 17:57 | #2

    Paul: my point was that the stories were not told from the standpoint of using public money, they were all centered on the idea that Pelosi was a prima donna; at least that’s the tilt that I noticed in just about every article I read and every report I saw on the matter. The focus was not that Pelosi was taking the public to the cleaners, the focus was on her demanding a bigger jet, as if it meant that she needed to have bigger and better and first-class-all-the-way.

    I mentioned the public-money thing in the blog post; but the thing is, the media just isn’t at all interested in public money, they’re interested in juicy dirt on personalities. So, from a realistic viewpoint, you’re exactly correct–but from the standards the media itself runs by, the two stories were not dealt with equally.

    I mean, look at Hastert–he let cronies fly his government-supplied plane, and the press never touched it, nor did they even bring it up much if at all when the Pelosi story was raging. Where’s the parity in that?

    Let’s face it–if it were made public that Barack Obama were demanding the same terms from private organizations that Giuliani is demanding, you don’t the the media would swarm? Hell, yes, they would. Fox would be all over it, then CNN and MSNBC would scramble after them to try to share in the ratings from it.

    What I will grant you is that a major difference was that the right wing was heavily pushing the smear on the Pelosi story and the right-wing media was the main force that picked it up and made it “mainstream,” so everyone picked up on it. The Giuliani story, in the meantime, does not have the Democrats pushing to make it into a scandal, nor is there any left-wing equivalent of Fox and its kin to pick up such a story and give it life and legs. But then, that’s sort of my point–unequal coverage.

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