Yesterday, after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had made Ohio plumber Sam Joe Wurzelbacher a central figure in the political debate, the media dug into who “Joe the Plumber” is. The media scrutiny revealed, amongst other things, that Wurzelbacher owes back taxes, isn’t actually licensed as a plumber and “makes less than $250,000 a year, which means he would receive a tax cut if Obama were elected president.”
The right wing is now claiming that reporters are on a “mission to tear down Joe the Plumber.” On Fox and Friends this morning, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that “the Obama water carriers in the media are going full force after this guy” in order to “attack the messenger” and “tear him down.” Watch it:
As Jesse Taylor notes at Pandagon, Malkin’s complaints about scrutiny of Wurzelbacher are more than “just the pot calling the kettle black.” Last year, when twelve-year old Graeme Frost delivered a Democratic radio address in favor of expanding SCHIP, Malkin and other right-wingers launched a baseless smear campaign targeting Frost and his family.
At the time, Malkin vociferously defended her actions — which included visiting the Frost’s commercial property and home — as doing “what journalists should be doing”:
Asking questions and subjecting political anecdotes to scrutiny are what journalists should be doing.
When a family and Democrat political leaders drag a child down to Washington at 6 in the morning to read a script written by Senate Democrat staffers on a crusade to overturn a presidential veto, someone might have questions about the family’s claims. The newspapers don’t want to do their jobs. The vacuum is being filled.
If you don’t want questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage.
Fight your battles like adults and stop hiding behind youngsters dragging around red wagons filled with your talking points.
Malkin is not completely unaware of the hypocrisy of her complaints. She attempts to explain it away by claiming the media has “behemoth double standards” for calling it “journalism when they investigate, but consider it ‘stalking’ when those of us on the Right perform the same tasks on Democrat poster families.”
The difference between what the media is doing now with Wurzelbacher and what Malkin and the right wing did to the Frosts is clear. While the media is reporting the facts as they find them, Malkin and her allies distorted the facts with innuendo and refused to believe the Frosts were “struggling” even after family friends told them so.
Jonathan Cohn has more on Malkin’s hypocrisy here.