Question raised by exchange

Dan Froomkin of the WaPo reprints an exchange between White House Spokesperon Dana Perino and the genuine reporter (Compared to the rest of the White House press corps) Helen Thomas:

Thomas: "The American people are being asked to die and pay for this. And you're saying they have no say in this war?"
Perino: "No, I didn't say that Helen. But Helen, this president was elected --"
Thomas: "Well, what it amounts to is you saying we have no input at all."
Perino: "You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that's the way our system is set up. . . . "
Thomas: "Supposed to be a government for the people, of the people, by the people?"
Perino: "I would submit to you that people across America, if asked what type of a President do you want: one that stands on principle or that one that chases polls? And I think that they would want --"
Thomas: "What's the principle of going to war against the people who did nothing to us?"
My question is: How many reporters knew in 2000 that this is what Bush's view of the office was, but chose to give him a pass anyway? Al Gore was described as a serial sigher and habitual exaggerator. "Gore was 'pandering' on [the Cuban boy] Elian [Gonzales], and Bush was not—though both held the exact same position." Completely normal conduct by the Bush and Gore campaigns were treated as stark, black-and-white opposites (See the final example in the referenced piece) by the Washington DC press corps.

Why were reporters in 2000 covering for Bush?

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