Sarah Palin? She didn't even run, but NBC and Savannah Guthrie needed no documentary evidence to repeat every scurrilous accusation of leftist author Joe McGinniss: She was a horrible mother who used her children as props. Her marriage was a mess of incessant fighting on the verge of divorce. Both Palins used cocaine. And Sarah Palin once slept with pro basketball player Glen Rice.
Michele Bachmann? ABC's Brian Ross used a leftist gay activist from the group Truth Wins Out to create a "pray away the gay" scandal around Michele Bachmann's therapist husband, Marcus.
Rick Perry? CBS anchor Jeff Glor warned of a "race-related firestorm" broken by the Washington Post, a nothing burger that a hunting camp leased by the Perry family had a rock marker with the N-word on it — which the Perrys painted over — decades ago.
Herman Cain? The networks aired 100 stories relaying anonymous charges of sexual harassment against Cain before there was an accuser with a name and a face. Shameless George Stephanopoulos dismissed Cain for low character: "There are just too many questions about his honesty, his judgment, his experience, his organization." NBC's Chuck Todd clucked he was a dead man walking.
Newt Gingrich? ABC's Brian Ross eagerly prompted Newt Gingrich's second wife Marianne Gingrich to tell all about her claim that Newt asked for an open marriage: "You know his secrets. You know his skeletons," he said hungrily.
Rick Santorum? NBC's Michael Isikoff jumped right in with this utterly unnecessary attack on his wife Karen: "Newsweek reported that before she married Santorum, she had a six-year live-in relationship with a Pittsburgh abortion doctor 40 years her senior."
Stories from Mitt Romney's private life were routinely "fair game," from the Washington Post's story that Romney may have cut another boy's hair as a prank in high school in 1965 to the alleged horror that the family dog rode inside a cartop carrier on a vacation trip to Canada in 1983.
Keep all that in mind as NBC's Andrea Mitchell raged on the "Nightly News" about "inflammatory excerpts" from papers from the late Diane Blair, one of Hillary Clinton's closest friends in Arkansas. "Blair did not survive to provide context for her diary. Now Republicans say her notes are fair game." She concluded: "Hillary Clinton had no comment on a campaign already brutal two years before it's begun."
Those dastardly Republicans. They are so ... brutal! Dear, Mitchell: before any lectures about campaign brutality, explain where you were while mud was splattering on Palin, Santorum, Cain, etc. Mitchell's appointed left-wing expert at the University of Arkansas, Angie Maxwell, complained that the Free Beacon account was "very cherry-picked, it's very selected." So was every network story on Republicans listed above.
Mitchell continued to complain on her own MSNBC show, claiming that the whole focus on Blair's papers was out of context: "What we have so far ... are things out of context without corroboration, and it's not clear when she's — Diane Blair's quoting herself paraphrasing Hillary Clinton versus what Hillary Clinton said."
What Mitchell quite clearly implied is that to explore Hillary Clinton's history is to take Hillary out of context — unless you support her. Whatever Hillary wants to talk about her life's work is current and fresh. Whatever Hillary's critics want to discuss about her record is out-of-context and unfair.
Mitchell cherry-picked this quote from Blair's notes for her NBC story, since it's apparently Hillary in context: "I'm a proud woman. I'm not stupid. I know I should do more to suck up to the press. I know it confuses people when I change my hairdos. I know I should pretend not to have any opinions, but I'm just not going to. I'm used to winning, and I intend to win on my own terms."
That same old win-on-my-terms ruthlessness is exactly what the Clintons are practicing against the Free Beacon: "Nothing to see here, folks. Everything negative about us is old news."