Liberals have for decades turned a collective blind eye when brothers Bobby, and especially Ted, so effortlessly fed off John F. Kennedy’s aura and jump-started their own political careers. And does anyone seriously think that “W” would have inhabited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had papa Bush not been there first? Today’s Republicans seldom mention the leg-up that father George Romney gave to his son Mitt. And few on either side of the political aisle touched the third-rail gender question of whether being First Wife really qualifies a person to be secretary of state for the world’s No. 1 superpower.
But as omnipresent as political nepotism seems to be, it’s not something that has been extensively covered by the media. Sure, there have been occasional news pieces on the subject, and partisan media have printed and aired opinion pieces on such coattail politics. But for the most part established media have been rather unconcerned about such political issues.
While the media generally find it acceptable for siblings and children of politically royalty to end-run the regular electoral process, heaven help such a favorite child from not paying her journalistic dues and rocketing to the top of the journalism establishment.
It’s one thing for journalists to have winked and nodded as Ted Kennedy parleyed Jack’s popularity so that, had it not been for an ill-timed Chappaquiddick swim, a second brother likely would have been in the White House last century. It’s quite another for journalists to keep quiet when First Daughter Chelsea Clinton catapults past their own colleagues to quickly become an NBC Nightly News correspondent.
Journalists did not seem so critical when George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna, joined NBC’s TODAY in 2009. Perhaps journalists did not see the infotainment-rich morning show being as “journalistic” as they do the network’s Nightly News. Perhaps members of the media, being ever sensitive of the public’s suspicion journalists are left-leaning, did not want to come down hard on the child of a former Republican president. Perhaps.
It does appear, though, that daughter Chelsea is being put under an unusually high-powered media microscope. And one might wonder why that might be the case, and whether a double standard might be at work here.