How should the media cover the presidential candidates over the next five months?

So asks Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post, in a piece titled “Yes, the media should cover Trump fairly — but even better, hold him accountable,” Washington Post, June 5, 2016.

This is one of those rare instances where the headline is more accurate than the author’s claim in the piece. Sullivan, as the opening line above suggests, claims to be discussing how the press should handle the presidential candidates. In fact, as the headline writer correctly discerned, virtually the whole piece is about how the media should handle Donald Trump.

Actually, I have no problem with what she says about pointing out his falsehoods. I would simply like to see them pointing out Hillary Clinton’s falsehoods also. Sullivan gives a big tell, though, when she writes:

the slightest hint of a new angle on Hillary Clinton’s email practices can occupy most of a news cycle.

Hmmm. The slightest hint? Like when the State Department inspector general’s report shows that Clinton lied about what the ground rules for email were? The WaPost article that came out at the time dances around that, never pointing out that she clearly lied. I had to go to the FactCheck article to see that she did lie.

But, by all means, let’s have accountability.

I have a sense–and here I would be happy to be proved wrong with evidence–that for Margaret Sullivan to say that Hillary Clinton lied, not just misspoke, but lied, would be close to impossible. It would be like an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show where Ted Baxter tries to say “I love you” to Georgette and it comes out as “I laa” If Sullivan were to try to say “Hillary Clinton lied,” it would come out as “Hillary Clinton laa.”

One other issue with Sullivan, although she is, unfortunately, not alone in this. She writes:

News outlets ought to rethink the purpose of their campaign coverage. It’s not to be equally nice to all candidates. It’s to provide Americans with the hard information they need to decide who is fit to lead the country.

It might come as a surprise to her, but we are not deciding “who is fit to lead the country.” We are voting for someone who leads one of the three branches of the federal government.