The New York Times ran a story this week on the traffic tickets accumulated by GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio and his wife Jeanette since 1997. It was a topic of much discussion in the rest of the mainstream media.
In 2007, however, when another presidential hopeful ran afoul of civil infractions, the Times and other outlets were less interested in the story.
In March of 2007 it broke that then Senator Barack Obama had 15 outstanding parking tickets from his days in law school 17 years earlier, and it was met with a dismissive tone from the mainstream media.
The Times wrote:
While the Iraq debate had a prominent place in the blogs today, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and his collegiate parking habits also received attention.
While one conservative site saw some meat to the news, many blogs from each side of the fence felt the need to move on.
The Washington Post simply ran an Associated Press story that factually recounted Obama’s payment of the fines and late fees, totaling $375, and quoted then-Obama campaign spokeswoman, now White House communications director, Jen Psaki saying, “He didn’t owe that much and what he did owe, he paid. Many people have parking tickets and late fees. All the parking tickets and late fees were paid in full.”
Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review chastised the media for bothering to report the story at all. The CJR wrote a dismissive piece entitled “Obama’s Parking Tickets: Who Cares?” The piece concluded:
This is a story that never should have made it beyond local Boston TV news, if that. It’s the kind of lazy, picayune nonsense that passes as a “character issue,” but really adds nothing to our understanding of a candidate. Yet such stories tend to pile up during a campaign, often at the expense of questions and issues that actually matter. Up next: Did you “experiment” with marijuana as a college student?
The CJR piece ran the day after the AP story hit the wires.
As of now, CJR has yet to write a word, dismissive or otherwise, on the Rubio family’s driving habits.