Liberal CNN analyst Kirsten Powers expressed irritation with the "royal treatment" given to Beto O'Rourke by the media Thursday as she discussed his entrance into the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
Powers, a former Clinton administration official, said the former three-term Texas congressman's meager accomplishments didn't rise up to the level of treatment he's received from the press. The most recent example: a gushing, lengthy Vanity Fair profile that wondered if he was "destined" for the White House.
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"Can I just say one thing, though, about what's bothering me about this isn't so much about what he's doing. It's what the media's doing," Powers said. "The fact that he gets this Vanity Fair cover, and I feel like he is getting this special treatment that's not proportionate to what he's done. He's had a big accomplishment, but so did Stacey Abrams," referring to the Georgia Democrat who lost a close race for governor in 2018.
"There are a lot of other candidates who have accomplished a lot," she added. "It's not clear to me why he's on the cover of Vanity Fair and Kamala Harris isn't."
"I"m fascinated by that, too, and I want to know why do you think it is?" CNN host Poppy Harlow asked.
"Well, because I think that there's still an issue in this country where people just get very, very excited about white men," Powers said. " I mean, I don't know what the other explanation is. Or I shouldn't even say white men. Men. Because I think we saw the same thing with Barack Obama, and so the question is—I actually—Kamala Harris is an incredibly charismatic, obviously, I think brilliant woman, and it's not clear to me why Beto O'Rourke is getting this kind of royal treatment that she's not getting, or frankly, Stacey Abrams, who is incredible, right?"
"The media can help create a lot of this, so I feel like people have to be conscious of that," she concluded.
O'Rourke received glowing coverage throughout his failed Senate bid last year against Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas). One ABC News reporter exclaimed, "You're a rock star!" as she interviewed him following a campaign event. Media profiles constantly compared him to progressive icon Bobby Kennedy.
"Democrats might look at O’Rourke — a small-business owner with hipster credentials, a Gen Xer who speaks fluent Spanish and looks more like a Kennedy than the Kennedys do — and see a candidate of thrilling national potential, marred only by where he happens to live," the Washington Post wrote in 2017.