I had thought that the press would stand by Hillary Clinton in the same way they’ve stood by Obama—through thick and thin. After all, Obama has committed acts far worse than Hillary’s, has covered up more, and has been just as egregious in his lies. And yet I can’t recall Obama having been subjected to questions even remotely as difficult as the ones Hillary faced (and answered poorly) this week, although the press could have grilled him that way any time he appeared before them.

They chose not to do that, but they chose to ask some real questions of Hillary Clinton. Why the differential treatment?

As soon as the email story broke, the NY Times led the attack. Originally it seemed that they may have wanted to get it over with in a perfunctory way and then let her candidacy continue, or that this was being done at the direction of Obama who wanted another candidate for various reasons. But now I’ve come to think that the first reason isn’t operative (at least, not any more), and that although the second may be true, it doesn’t account for the fervor of the criticism.

Perhaps part of the reason this thing has gotten bigger is that Clinton has handled it poorly. Perhaps the MSM is piling on because they thought Hillary would be better at dealing with it than she has demonstrated so far, and they’re panicking because her performance means she will be a bad candidate come 2016. Or perhaps they know of other scandals, and they want her out before the revelations multiply (and end up reflecting poorly on their favorite, Obama, or on liberalism itself?) If they can’t put out this fire they may want to fan the flames so that the sacrifice happens more quickly and a new and more viable candidate is chosen, and they can get credit for “objectivity” (for hurting one of their own) into the bargain.

What’s more, it’s becoming clearer that they just don’t like Hillary and are tired of her. Obama—whose business it is to know these things—knew from the start that Hillary had some problems in the “likeability” arena. Remember this?:

Who’s the more likeable figure in that exchange? It’s one of those clenched-teeth conversations in which humor masks testiness; there is clearly no love lost between these two, and it’s astounding that they ever worked together.

In early 2009 Bernard Goldberg wrote a book about Obama and the press entitled A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media. That is quite descriptive, and although there have been a few tiny bumps in the road (the course of true love never did run completely smooth) that love affair has continued and has benefited Obama mightily. Without it, he might not have won in 2008, and there is an even greater chance that he would not have won in 2012.

I don’t think that Obama’s race is the reason for the love affair, although it most likely contributes to it: the desire to elect, and then not to criticize, the first black president lest one be accused of racism. Also, liberal journalists believe that Obama is ideologically one of them. But something additional may be going on, something about Obama himself—his supposed intelligence, coolness, suavity; also a bandwagon effect, and maybe even a fear of what he could do to those who cross him. Hillary doesn’t have that je ne sais quoi, although she does have the advantage of being a woman and therefore a member of a favored group whose “time has come” to be president.

It may not be enough. That doesn’t mean she won’t end up being the Democratic nominee, or even win the 2016 election. But it’s no longer looking like her nomination is such an inevitability.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]