Remember back in 2017 when the media called the late Senator John McCain a traitor for voting against his party’s own American Healthcare Act?
No? Yeah, us neither.
TV journalists always seem eager to praise any Republican Senator who’s willing to break party lines and vote against his or her own caucus. Yet strangely, these same talking heads now have nothing but contempt for Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for refusing to fall in line with their caucus and vote to nuke the filibuster.
When a Republican breaks ranks, the media call that “voting his conscience.” When Democrats do it, the same media accuse them of acting in “bad faith.”
Look at how differently the media handle Republican and Democratic Senators who vote against the rest of their party:
When Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted to convict President Trump during the February 2020 impeachment trial, CNN’s John Avlon heaped saccharine praise on Romney:
That was a true profile in courage speech that we just heard. That was the sound of a man who’d wrestled with his conscience, who tried to think bigger than partisan politics…
NBC Nightly News praised the Senator for “voting his conscience,” and political director Chuck Todd declared him “the president of the Republican resistance to Donald Trump.”
Then-Senator Jeff Flake received similar adulation in 2018 for delaying the confirmation vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “He talks a lot about the need to put conscience over party and principle over partisan loyalty,” gushed Atlantic writer McKay Coppins on CNN Newsroom.
Now that the Senators breaking with the rest of their party are Democrats, the same establishment media can barely suppress their disdain.
On the December 21, 2021 edition of MSNBC’s The ReidOut, host Joy Reid declared Senator Manchin the recipient of her esteemed “absolute worst” award, “for his bad faith, fake negotiating, and obstruction of a bill that would truly help his constituents.” A few weeks later on that same show, Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman whined: “Kyrsten Sinema didn’t just disrespect Joe Biden, she disrespected American Democracy.”
But it was The View co-host Joy Behar who most succinctly summed up the press’s gripe with Manchin and Sinema: “Why do they call themselves Democrats when they refuse to do what the party leader wants them to do?”
To the American media, anyone who dares hamper the Democratic agenda is a bad actor, while those who stymie Republicans’ legislative goals are brave and heroic. Sure, it’s a double standard, but at least they’re being consistent about what they want.