The Times-Dispatch plays devil's advocate:
Playing "What if . . . " can be a silly game. On the other hand, as a speculative exercise, it may be enlightening if limited to broad themes and relatively simple matters. And it's almost always fun, so what the heck:What if, indeed.
What if the aide to a conservative Republican senator from Virginia -- someone like, say, George Allen -- had been arrested for carrying a loaded pistol into a Senate office building?
And what if, after the arrest, the senator had refused to answer questions about the gun's ownership -- but admitted nearly three months later that he did indeed own the gun?
It is against the law to carry a handgun in the District of Columbia. And it is impossible -- without a helicopter -- to reach Capitol Hill without traveling through parts of D.C.The TD openly examines the actions of its fellow MSM's coverage -- or lack of -- throughout this episode.
So what if a newspaper reporter asked our hypothetical conservative Republican senator whether he complies with D.C. gun laws and the senator's response was: "I don't think we need to discuss that anymore"?
Does anyone honestly believe the media would nod and let the matter rest? But that has essentially been the response to the real-life version of our cleverly constructed what if, which differs -- as readers have no doubt deduced -- only in that the senator is Democrat Jim Webb.
Truth be told, we believe the media's response to the story has been appropriate. Petty use of the law to score political points is unseemly and undermines both the integrity of the public debate and respect for the law. Webb's offense -- if there was one at all -- seems relatively minor.Not "might be" a different story but "would be" a different story. We need look no further than the Washington Post and their coverage last fall of George Allen's campaign.
On the other hand, much of the media has spent the past six years working to undermine conservative Republicans by slamming them with unproven or absurdly arcane charges of legal wrongdoing. The Justice Department seems to be doing a good job catching the real crooks in both parties, including plenty of Republicans. The media's standards are much lower.
We've heard few demands for further investigation into Webb's gun kerfuffle -- and the media display little appetite to pursue the public's right to know more about the incident. And that's probably best.
But what if Webb were a Republican? Now that might be a different story altogether.
What if, indeed.