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Brad Bumsted: An illegitimate double standard

| Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, 9:10 p.m.

Editor's note: Brad Bumsted filed this column before heading to Tampa, where he'll be covering the Republican National Convention this week.

HARRISBURG

The national media went berserk over Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin's remark about “legitimate rape.”

The fact that Akin, a sitting Republican member of Congress, by midweek would not bow out of the race only made it worse.

We all should deplore the use of “gotcha” sound bites by Republican and Democrat operatives, pouncing on one word or phrase out of context followed by an unending round of calls for apologies. The media are usually willing accomplices and co-conspirators.

But Akin's statement was “legitimately” offensive. Trying to explain why he opposed abortion in all circumstances, Akin said “if it's a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” He later asked constituents for forgiveness, saying he misspoke.

Despite Mitt Romney disavowing the comments and calling for Akin's resignation, Democrats are trying to make Romney wear it.

The bottom line: Akin deserved every bit of the negative ink and airtime.

Then contrast that with Vice President Joe Biden, who gets a pass from the media for his outrageous statements. In remarks to a largely black group in Virginia, Biden said, “Romney's going to let the big banks once again write all the rules. (They'll) unchain Wall Street. They're gonna put ya'll back in chains.”

If presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said that, you can imagine the firestorm in the liberal media. Ryan could beg for forgiveness continually but the media torture would continue.

“Mitt and the guys are all running away from Akin as fast as possible, but the truth is out there,” the Allegheny County Democratic Committee said in an email to Democrats.

Biden was barely chastised by the media. It is a big fat double standard.

The Biden remark, called a “blatant appeal to racism” by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had a short shelf life on most network and cable news shows. Most media did their part to bury it.

To its credit, the liberal Boston Globe separated itself from the pack, criticizing Biden and exposing the double standard:

“Liberals routinely dismiss Biden's gaffes as the rhetorical excesses of an overly exuberant speaker — it's ‘Joe being Joe.' And there can be something appealing about a politician who throws caution and the script that goes with it to the winds,” The Globe wrote. “Yet when conservative speakers get overly exuberant and cross a rhetorical line, they are presumed racist or culturally insensitive, rather than refreshingly free-spirited. One standard should apply.”

One standard. It's hard to fathom.

There's no doubt Akin and Biden crossed the line.

The Globe called for Biden to apologize.

And believe this — what Biden said had to be pretty bad for The Boston Globe to demand his apology.

Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com).

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