Scott Walker is officially the GOP frontrunner, and the media is out for blood

posted at 11:01 am on February 22, 2015 by Noah Rothman

How do you know that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken at least temporary custody of frontrunner status in the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016? Beyond, of course, the polls that show him rocketing to the front of the pack in critical early primary states like Iowa? The political press is coming down hard on him and his nascent campaign.

After three unambiguous statewide victories in a Democratic state in just four years, Scott Walker is thoroughly vetted. If there were skeletons in his closet, the media and the myriad opposition researchers scrutinizing his past would have found them by now. “Scott Walker could very well be indicted in the coming days,” the forlorn MSNBC host Ed Schultz predicted on the night of Walker’s second statewide victory. He never was.

So, the press has taken a keen interest in catching Walker in unflattering moments or making hash out of otherwise minor controversies. Rudy Giuliani was speaking at an event for Walker when he sent the political media into a manic frenzy in which reporter and pundit alike tripped over one another to denounce what they dubbed the New York City’ mayor’s callous and quite possibly racist assertion that President Barack Obama doesn’t love his country. Only now, on day five of that story, is it finally beginning to fade from the media’s focus.

When Walker refused to denounce the former Big Apple mayor to the media’s satisfaction, they pounced. “What Scott Walker did ought to disqualify him as a serious presidential contender,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank hyperventilated. “Clownish,” insisted Rachel Maddow Show producer Steve Benen. “Spineless,” The Washington Post editorial board averred.

And all this merely because the Badger State governor said “the mayor can speak for himself” despite conceding that his comments were “aggressive.” The press would not have been satisfied unless Walker had thrown himself upon a pyre in penitence for the sin of having attended an event at which the president’s values were questioned and his honor attacked. It was bizarre to see the political press respond to Giuliani’s remarks as though they had been personally insulted.

This episode did provide the media with the opportunity to quiz every Republican candidate about how they feel about a politician out of office for over a decade. Despite the fact that the head of the Democratic National Committee is involved in a significant quid pro quo scandal and remains suspect of interfaith marriage and the Vice President of the United States is a serial groper, Democrats are spared association with these figures by an energetic political media.

You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that Walker has disqualified himself from serving as the President of the United States twice in less than one week, at least according to the Beltway media. Again, Walker was judged to have failed to meet the subjectively defined standards of conduct befitting a member of the opposition party when talking about President Obama. When the Wisconsin governor was inexplicably asked by The Washington Post whether or not he believed that Barack Obama was a Christian, Walker stepped on a landmine when he answered, “I don’t know.”

“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” Walker said, his voice calm and firm. “I’ve never asked him that,” he added. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”

Now, let’s step back a minute. Those of you who didn’t succumb to the compulsion to wail and tear at your clothes over the mere suggestion that Barack Obama wasn’t Christian enough for Walker’s tastes might be predisposed to extend Walker the benefit of some doubt. The interpretation of these remarks that many in the journalistic community apparently share is that Walker was consciously trying to cast doubt on Obama’s faith and frame him as “the other” (and, no, I can’t believe we’re still having this debate after six years of the Obama presidency). It’s possible Walker was trying to be a bit cagey, as was Hillary Clinton when she told a political reporter in 2008 that Obama wasn’t a closet follower of the Islamic faith “as far as I know.” That is, however, the worst possible interpretation of Walker’s intentions. So few in the media entertained the idea that the governor might not have been indulging his inner Machiavelli and was perhaps honestly trying to avoid answering that question at all.

And good for him if he wasn’t. It’s a stupid question, and Walker called it as much in the second part of his answer that, unsurprisingly, is getting far less play in the press. “To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” Walker said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”

He’s absolutely right. At a time when American combat forces are reportedly preparing to re-engage an enemy of nearly unfathomable horror in the Middle East, American diplomatic energy consistently fails to stop the bloodletting in Europe or prevent Iran from going nuclear, and when the Affordable Care Act consistently fails to perform as advertised, the compulsion that drives the media to enforce Republican reverence toward the president is quite sordid.

Conservatives who truly believe Obama is some sort of Manchurian candidate or a covert Muslim are deeply misguided, and not one single serious figure within the party espouses those views. Most of those who do were effectively sidelined long ago. They subsist today on the attentions of the political press and increasingly self-marginalized institutions like CPAC. To imply that Walker was subtly channeling that pathology in conservatives is for the press to again declare themselves code breakers who can efficiently sniff out “dog whistles” better than even their intended recipients.

And that’s just what many did:

“Why is it so damned difficult for someone to say that Obama is a Christian who loves America—and he also happens to have been a really bad president?” Matt Lewis asked in The Daily Beast. “Why not grant him this small concession? He’s never going to be on the ballot again, so why are Republicans still fighting the last war?”

Incidentally, “I really don’t know,” is precisely what Walker said to the tens of reporters who hounded him over the course of Giuliani-gate. It is telling that the Beltway reporting class reads Walker saying “I don’t know” and hears Col. Jessup issuing a sprawling confession after breaking down amid a withering cross-examination.

Moreover, and this will surprise the reporting class, but not all strict adherents to the Christian faith take your word for it if you claim to be a coreligionist. Those reporters who bristle at the notion that Obama’s devotion to what he has claimed are his faith-based convictions is suspect have conveniently forgotten that the president’s closest advisor admitted as much just weeks ago:

The worst part of all of this is that the political press does not seem to realize how completely they have let the veil slip in this agitated and perhaps unprecedented effort to protect Obama’s good name. The most deferential assessment of the media’s behavior over the last week would at least concede that they are preoccupied with frivolities. Nothing so energizes the media as the easy questions and the uncomplicated stories that provide them with opportunities to posture with presumed moral superiority. The worst one can say of the press over the course of this episode is that they remain committed to the success of the Obama presidency even while it flounders. That is an impulse that is growing increasingly frantic as the end of the Obama’s presidency nears and as his dubious legacy is repeatedly impugned by those who aspire to succeed him.


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forlorn MSNBC host Ed Schultz

Since when is MSNBC media? They’re Dem operatives. Advocates. If the election board were honest the whole network would be charged as a campaign contribution, and every Senate and House minority leader would be in the stocks for election fraud.

papertiger on February 23, 2015 at 4:04 AM

“I don’t know” is a refreshing answer. I’m tired of know-it-all politicians – it takes a wise man to admit when he doesn’t know something.

Besides, it’s a trick question. If Walker says “yes,” then some religious groups will be angry, and if he says “no,” the media would criticize him for it.

They’re just looking for something wrong with Walker. It reminds me of the trick questions the Pharisees would ask Jesus, hoping to get him to answer in a way that would turn public opinion against him.

Nephew Sam on February 23, 2015 at 4:35 AM

Conservatives who are “deeply misguided” think they know that Obama is not a Muslim. PROVE IT, Noah. Prove that Obama IS a Christian. Prove that Obama is NOT a Muslim. Every word out of his mouth, every act since he became President stands in direct opposition to your smug assertion.

PROVE IT, NOAH.

You cannot prove it; so please keep your sanctimony and your contempt to yourself, because you seem to be of the impression that being “sidelined” –and by whom are we sidelined, if not the same media jackals you are decrying in your post, after all?–by liars is definitive! Shame on you, Noah, for buying into their straw man so you can be accepted into their DUBIOUS CLUB!

I do believe I can substantively heap up enough EVIDENCE to bury you in your own sanctimony that Obama is absolutely not a Christian, and is most definitively a Muslim sympathizer. Where will you find ANY evidence to the contrary? You won’t.

Barack Obama is an adherent and a believer in BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY; he attended a church led by a BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGIST, Rev Jeremiah Wright! For 20 years–a church which even Oprah Winfrey couldn’t join because of its hateful, racist dogma. BLT believers, as Obama certainly is, are Marxists, who have joined the Muslim faith by the millions for the past 60 years! Mohammed Ali, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan are just 3 examples. Look up more black celebrities for their Muslim names. This is Obama’s world; these are his fellow travelers.

SIDELINED, MARGINALIZED? You have proven yourself a huge disappointment, Noah. But at least it’s clear that you too are a member of the SEE NOTHING, KNOW NOTHING GROUP THINKERS who demand that everyone else give up their critical thinking because it makes you uncomfortable. I won’t give your columns a second thought now that you’ve revealed it.

mountainaires on February 23, 2015 at 6:11 AM

Tom Benson: “Find me conservatives who are pro-amnesty, pro-separation of church and state, pro-gay-marriage, and pro-choice.”
11:34 AM – 19 Jun 2014

Noah Rothman [email protected]: “I’m all of the above … Reform w citizenship path, yes”
11:44 AM – 19 Jun 2014

Emperor Norton on February 22, 2015 at 1:55 PM

I’m sick of Noah’s crap honestly. A real boycott is the only way to purge this liberal infection.

Boycott Noah…no clicks, no comments!

BierManVA on February 23, 2015 at 7:03 AM

Walker and the GOP need to take off the kid gloves and hire a brutal PR team to go after that liberal, left wing slime with an unrelenting vengeance. All of this sweet, fair crap doesn’t cut it with the leftist gangs that challenge him. Get tough Walker and see if you can shake some courage out of that wimpy GOP.

rplat on February 23, 2015 at 7:32 AM

Where is Granny Clinton?

The media has dusted off their playbook from the last election.

Eager to coronate another destructive Democrat and avoid anything resembling honest scrutiny, they are trying to define the GOP’s candidates early.

And they are doing it with rumor, innuendo, supposition and baseless tripe that has zero to do with a candidate qualifications.

But they are really sorry they didn’t screen Mr. Obama well enough. No, really. Stop laughing.

I’m sure they will get around to asking Granny Clinton a few questions. That is when the old gal has plenty of time to prepare an answer.

Marcus Traianus on February 23, 2015 at 7:47 AM

Another classic wedge issue. Answer definitively and you alienate some sector of the electorate. The only smart answer is no answer.

There are issues on which a candidate should offer a firm position: immigration, ObamaCare, executive overreach, IRS abuse, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Boko Haram, etc., because these are important issues in which a president can have real impact. Question like is Obama a Christian and does Obama love America are just chump bait, and you have to be a chump to take the bait. So while it’s okay to say “he should have said this or that,” it’s unwise to expect any serious candidate to say anything other than a variation of “no comment.”

Immolate on February 23, 2015 at 9:03 AM

I will say it emphatically: Obama is no covert Muslim and any “conservative” who thinks he is is a moron. Seriously, people need to stop saying this. He is narcissistic and deeply liberal, but religious he is not. So stop looking like idiots and get to the real issues.

Indefatigable on February 23, 2015 at 9:03 AM

I will say it emphatically: Obama is no covert Muslim and any “conservative” who thinks he is is a moron. Seriously, people need to stop saying this. He is narcissistic and deeply liberal, but religious he is not. So stop looking like idiots and get to the real issues.

You don’t have to be an active, card carrying and participating Muslim to support their causes and sympathize with their religious activities. Evidence has shown that Obama does just this and only a moron or a seriously intellectually impaired person would not note and acknowledge this behavior. If you disagree that’s fine but get off the nonsensical unsupported gibberish.

rplat on February 23, 2015 at 9:36 AM

For the love of God how is, “Do you think Obama is a Christian?” a gotcha question? It’s about as far from that as I can imagine.

— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 22, 2015

Clearly this moron doesn’t even know the definition of a “gotcha question”.

Is Obama a Christian ? Has only two answers – the “correct” answer, that is “Yes, obviously, duh”, which has no value to the Presidential nomination race whatsoever, and anything else, to which the lap dogs in the media will – and already have – gone apoplectic.

Seriously, what value does that question have, other than as a potential land mine ?

deadrody on February 23, 2015 at 9:39 AM

I will say it emphatically: Obama is no covert Muslim and any “conservative” who thinks he is is a moron. Seriously, people need to stop saying this. He is narcissistic and deeply liberal, but religious he is not. So stop looking like idiots and get to the real issues.

Indefatigable on February 23, 2015 at 9:03 AM

There are very few people who think Obama actually kneels down on a prayer rug facing Mecca several times per day, but most people you’re characterizing as “morons” – including me, Giuliani and others believe that his Muslim heritage had made him more predisposed to sympathize with Muslims over Christians and Jews. He wrote those very words in Dreams of my (Muslim) Father.

crrr6 on February 23, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Well…. I’ve been absent here for a while… Had to get a new laptop as my tablet was lousy for visiting here, kept jamming up..

I can see that there are a few changes,.. but mostly the same.

This article greatly understates the sheer viciousness of the left wing press..

It was bizarre to see the political press respond to Giuliani’s remarks as though they had been personally insulted.

No.. not bizarre, predictable, because they WERE personally insulted, they are personally insulted that we even exist, that we disagree, that we don’t sit down, shut up and take our beatings like the sheep they want us to be..

This is quite literally war. the media has declared war on conservatives, and has moved so far left they see every debacle under Obama’s nonleadership as “progress”.. They cover up every lie, every scandal, do so with a smirk then wail and screech about “faux” news when we find out anyway.

Through this entire disaster, we have to be scolded by Noah for holding perfectly rational views?

that the president has extreme sympathies for the muslim “faith” and will lie, will divert, will smear Christians as way way worser to hide what islam is..

Does that make him a muslim?.. You tell me Noah?.. he was raised that way.. but you smear anyone who makes a quite logical conclusion that he at the least, has a residual love of the ideas, traditions of it.

I personally don’t think Obama worships anyone but Obama.. but that he has a liberation theology fixation on it, because being 3rd world, “it MUST be better, more moral”… typical hardcore leftist, anti-western thinking.. something he has displayed all along..

what’s truly bizarre, is the amount of self delusion people have in recognizing it.

mark81150 on February 23, 2015 at 9:52 AM

“I don’t know” is a refreshing answer. I’m tired of know-it-all politicians – it takes a wise man to admit when he doesn’t know something.

Besides, it’s a trick question. If Walker says “yes,” then some religious groups will be angry, and if he says “no,” the media would criticize him for it.

They’re just looking for something wrong with Walker. It reminds me of the trick questions the Pharisees would ask Jesus, hoping to get him to answer in a way that would turn public opinion against him.

Nephew Sam on February 23, 2015 at 4:35 AM

Such as the question the Pharisees asked Jesus about who gave him the authority to preach, and Jesus turned it around and asked the Pharisees by what authority John the Baptist preached. The Pharisees didn’t want to say anything that could get them in trouble, and said they didn’t know!

Scott Walker was wise to say that he didn’t know whether Obama was a Christian. Maybe the next time he is asked that question, he can reply what Jesus would have said, “By their fruits you shall know them!”

Steve Z on February 23, 2015 at 10:34 AM

I would vote for Scott Walker.

TerryW on February 23, 2015 at 10:48 AM

It would appear, that our resident drones may be busy organizing protests against Scott Walker again.

http://watchdog.org/201571/unions-right-to-work-protest/

I know four years ago big labor and the Democratic Party bussed in droves of protesters from out of state, so I expect this not to be much different, particularly now that Walker is getting more attention on the National Stage.

Star Bird on February 23, 2015 at 11:24 AM

The answer to whether or not somebody who voted against the “born alive infant protection act” is a Christian or not is pretty simple, I’d say.

Calas on February 23, 2015 at 11:28 AM

OMG. That’s no JV team. It’s a northern Midwest Cowliphate taking no prisoners.

jimw on February 23, 2015 at 12:02 PM

We all know the ‘college dropout’ thing is a bust, right?
Yesterday, my neighbor was clucking over the ‘loser’ the R’s have chosen.
My neighbor? College dropout IRL.

Unsure how we can fight the liberal media lies when the target audience is this stupid.

Tard on February 23, 2015 at 12:50 PM

Right! The bestest person to shut down immigration is the guy with the Cuban immigrant father! Stop it once and for all!/

Marcus on February 22, 2015 at 8:27 PM

This is one of the stupidest comments on HA.

Schadenfreude on February 23, 2015 at 1:18 PM

If he’s already stumbling on questions about evolution then he’s going to have a tough time in the debates and in interviews.

If the choice between Democrat and Republican on this election cycle is a candidate who won’t officially answer a question that should be considered settled science then the Republicans are going to have a tough time with independents and winning the narrative.

Put it this way. He wouldn’t dodge the question if he would have answered, “Yes of course I believe and accept evolution as a scientific theory.”

If he needs to appeal to the electorate that truly believes Dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together and that the earth is six thousand years old then we’re doomed.

Even Governor Palin wouldn’t dream of answering that question in that fashion and she’s the darling (rightly so) of the Tea Party. This part of the base needs to be dropped immediately or at least stop being pandered to if the Republicans want to have any chance at an independent.

ThomasPaineandsuffering on February 23, 2015 at 1:35 PM

If the choice between Democrat and Republican on this election cycle is a candidate who won’t officially answer a question that should be considered settled science then the Republicans are going to have a tough time with independents and winning the narrative.

ThomasPaineandsuffering on February 23, 2015 at 1:35 PM

Thank you for your concern.

Immolate on February 23, 2015 at 1:43 PM

The Liberals must be really scared of him because they are doing all they can to attack and drag him down. They did it to Christy and they will try it with anyone who is running against the “appointed” Democratic Nominee. We are not electing or nominating a man on his opinion of what anothers religion or patriotism is, we are looking for a true leader who can help us out of this quagmire that we are stuck in. Walker is a man who is “what you see is what you get”. He doesn’t do subterfuge well and is not a “political hack” who will tell you what you want to hear. He is a strong honest leader who has helped Wisconsin go “forward”. He can do the same for the US.

danalind on February 23, 2015 at 2:51 PM

In other words, business as usual for the People of the Lie.

Hening on February 23, 2015 at 3:04 PM

The correct answer is, “I believe Obama is Christian. Didn’t he attend Rev. God Damn America’s church for 20 years?”

FishingwFredo on February 23, 2015 at 3:13 PM

If the choice between Democrat and Republican on this election cycle is a candidate who won’t officially answer a question that should be considered settled science then the Republicans are going to have a tough time with independents and winning the narrative.

ThomasPaineandsuffering on February 23, 2015 at 1:35 PM

Why does whether he believes the Earth was formed 3.5 billion or 6000 years ago, have any bearing on his ability to balance budgets, create economic opportunity, or defend the nation?

As far as I know, he may be running for President of the United States, not Paleontologist of the United States.

Star Bird on February 23, 2015 at 6:34 PM

Besides, true science is never settled.

Star Bird on February 23, 2015 at 6:35 PM

All I know…well, all I believe, is, that if we all rallied around Walker from now until 2016, he’d win is a frickin’ landslide.

Fathom on February 23, 2015 at 7:46 PM

I have never joined the chorus of Noah bashers before but feel I must speak up this time. To have the opinion that Obama is if not an outright Muslim then at least a Muslim sympathizer is completely reasonable. Given the evidence of his own words and actions you can reach no other conclusion. This RINO PC garbage must stop. The press are bad enough without RINOs adding their voices to the chorus.

neyney on February 24, 2015 at 12:40 AM

Conservatives who truly believe Obama is some sort of Manchurian candidate or a covert Muslim are deeply misguided, and not one single serious figure within the party espouses those views. Most of those who do were effectively sidelined long ago. They subsist today on the attentions of the political press and increasingly self-marginalized institutions like CPAC.

Go walk off a pier.

Arnold Yabenson on February 24, 2015 at 11:19 AM

There are very few people who think Obama actually kneels down on a prayer rug facing Mecca several times per day, but most people you’re characterizing as “morons” – including me, Giuliani and others believe that his Muslim heritage had made him more predisposed to sympathize with Muslims over Christians and Jews. He wrote those very words in Dreams of my (Muslim) Father.

crrr6 on February 23, 2015 at 9:47 AM

I don’t doubt he sees it as something that is misunderstood and just on par with any other belief, but the foaming at the mouth attitude I see on display here often is that he is basically in cahoots with the imams on infiltrating and destroying America. That’s the kind of thing that MSNBC and the Dems are hoping we take to heart and want our candidates to believe. It sounds so easy to belief given his lax attitude towards Islam, but it has all the makings of an Alex Jones-type conspiracy theory. And the people who keep spouting it are doing more harm than good.

Indefatigable on February 24, 2015 at 12:16 PM

I stand by the opinion of Obama’s religion that I’ve stated elsewhere:

He’s an 11th Hour Opportunist, and a very devout one.

Nothing is allowed to stand in the way of serving the greater glory of his sort of God… the one he takes selfies of.

GrumpyOldFart on February 24, 2015 at 1:13 PM

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