Last week, John Faust, a Democrat candidate for a Virginia House seat, put his foot in his mouth with this quip about his G.O.P. opponent, Barbara Comstock:
“In her mind, that means giving tax benefits to special interests and the super wealthy,” Foust said. “I don’t think she’s even had a real job.”
Republicans quickly pounced on the chance to portray Foust as insensitive to women — a critical voting bloc in Virginia that Democrats have successfully courted in recent elections by accusing the GOP of being unfriendly on issues that are important to them, including birth control and abortion.
“This desperate attack shows how out of touch he is with who it is that lives and works in the 10th District and the challenges that working women, working moms and moms at home face every day by men who demean their many and demanding roles,” Comstock’s campaign manager, Susan Falconer, said in a news release.
This story was published on August 22. A search of “John Faust” shows nothing about this statement since then. Just out of curiosity, I searched the Washington Post archives for coverage back in 2006 when George Allen let out his infamous “macaca” statement to an individual from the opposition filming his campaign appearance. Here’s what I found:
- 8/14/06: Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology
- 8/17/06: What Did Mr. Allen Mean?
- 8/17/06: ‘Macaca’ Brouhaha: Fierce Guessing on What Allen Meant
- 8/17/06: Here’s the Big Hairy Deal
- 8/20/06: The Zeitgeist Checklist BY DANA MILBANK — Sure, there’s stuff going on in Lebanon and Iraq, but Washington is more intrigued by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) calling a young man of Indian descent “Macaca” — a type of monkey — and welcoming the Fairfax native to America
- 8/24/06: Allen Calls Webb Aide, Apologizes For Remark
- 8/24/06: Senator to ‘Macaca’: Sorry
- 9/3/06: ‘Macaca Moment’ Marks a Shift in Momentum
- 9/7/06: The Skills To Make ‘Macaca’ A Memory
- 9/7/06: Doomed by the Macaca Moment? Not With These Skills on the Trail
- 9/17/06: Allen and Webb Set for High-Stakes Debates in a Redefined Race — RICHMOND — Virginia’s U.S. Senate candidates will debate twice in the next two days, the first time they have faced each other since George Allen’s “macaca” gaffe turned the race into a close, increasingly nasty affair.
- 9/19/06: Allen Says He Embraces His Jewish Ancestry — Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) said for the first time publicly yesterday that he has Jewish ancestry, a day after responding angrily to an exchange that included questions about his mother’s racial sensitivity and whether his family has Jewish roots.
While Allen was running for a Senate seat and Faust is running for a House seat, both candidates had a local angle for the Post to justify extra coverage. Yet there seems to be no effort to turn Faust’s gaffe into any meta narrative.
By comparison, if one of the 2012 GOP candidates had said this, it would have spawned a hundred think pieces about the patriarchy and its insensitiveness toward women. I know because the media did just that in 2012 by its own creation.
What’s the point of this? It’s just to demonstrate how a media outlet can technically fulfill it’s obligation to report on a story, but when it suits its desires, it will create a narrative out of it for weeks, or it will bury the story by neglect.
I’m not going to pretend I’m the first to point this out, but the similarities between these stories and the disparate treatment by the same media outlet of these stories is instructive when measuring how much faith one puts in media objectivity.