Two remarkable -- perhaps not surprising, but remarkable -- aspects of the Mark Sanford scandal are 1) the lengths to which Sanford's staff lied to keep his absence unremarked upon and 2) the extent to which the media was actively complicit in helping his staff.
The State has revealed the latter, in publishing a series of emails sent to Sanford's office. Among the revelations is that ABC News's White House Correspondent is no better than the "reporters" at Fox about covering up a news story.
Most of the reporting had to do with local media, but at the end of the story was this howler:
ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper e-mailed Sawyer twice on June 23, both to note coverage of competitor NBC.
With a subject line of "NBC spot was slimy," Tapper e-mailed Sawyer a "Today" show transcript of Sanford coverage, calling it "insulting." Later, Tapper forwarded Sawyer a Twitter post by "Meet The Press" host David Gregory.
Jeff Schneider, a vice president at ABC News, said Tapper was "carrying some water for producers who knew he had a relationship with the governor’s office."
What I love is that Tapper's own boss said the alleged journalist was "carrying some water" when asked to comment. It is indeed apparent that the man ABC News entrusted with its White House beat is carrying some water, and makes me wonder what sub-Drudge producers ABC keeps on staff.
Tapper's behavior recalls nothing so much as Fox News's handling of the John Ensign scandal story. Not only did that network not go forward with the story -- even when they had exclusive access to Doug Hampton -- but its broadcasts falsely denied knowing about Hampton's letter for a period of time.
Josh Marshall and Eric Boehlert have made the case over the past few months that the national political media is hardwired to lean right in its coverage -- witness the preponderance of Republicans on the Sunday talk shows, even though recent electoral results indicate the nation is anything but a right-leaning people. Tapper's performance on the Sanford scandal is more evidence of this -- unless there's similar e-mail from Tapper to the McGreevy or Spitzer administrations before their resignations, one has to wonder how much water Tapper is willing to carry for the Republican Party.
UPDATE: Since this is on the recommended list, and Jake Tapper has twittered that he's opened an account on dkos, I will reprint my question to him (in comments below) here: Dear Jake, can you please supply us with similar messages you sent to Democratic staffers under similar circumstances? And explain why calling NBC's reporting "slimy" was a good idea? Thank you. Note to other readers: Since new accounts cannot comment for 24 hours, please do not assume that Jake Tapper's silence Wednesday indicates anything other than this site's procedure. The question stands for him to address here tomorrow...or (if he wishes to, since he has access to other forms of communication) on the air.