Yes, the difference between filibustering and grandstanding plays a part. Equally important is the fact that Cruz's theatrics are frustrating members of his own party. But, part of the disparity in coverage is due to the fact that the mainstream media, generally speaking, don't admire Cruz the way they admired [Wendy] Davis — or rather, they admire him only insofar as he makes for tragicomic theater, whereas they admired her on the merits.
Cruz is portrayed in the media as "aimless and self-destructive" (NYT ed board), elitist (GQ) and likely guided more by presidential aspirations than principles (CNN). Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, had no qualms about coming right out and calling Cruz, his former Princeton colleague, an "arrogant jerk" — and worse.
These portrayals may be accurate or inaccuarate — Cruz certainly has an elitist strain and he certainly has political ambitions. But that's not the point: The point is that the coverage of Cruz has been critical, and in some cases unforgiving, from the outset. At least initially, Davis wasn't viewed through a critical lens at all. Her willingness to stand for 11 hours was evidence of the American dream in action. Period.Byers apparently reserves his greatest respect for Long Dong Strom, who lapped Davis twice with his 24-hour plus actual filibuster in 'Fifty-Seven. That marathon session was Byers' American Dream, because who besides the nefarious EMESSEM gives a shit about ends or goals or motives. Or "merits."
More fundamentally, Byers plays the EMESSEM canard from the bottom of the deck, failing to mention that such right-wing publications as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post have also bashed Cruz's stunt, that the FOX News Channel has frequently fellated Cruz (and sometimes criticized him), or that supposedly liberal e-rags like The Daily Beast slandered Davis. Like every other dishonest wingnut, Byers pretends that the top-rated U.S. cable news channel, the newspaper with the largest national circulation, the newspaper with the seventh-largest national circulation and PoliticHo itself (publisher of this President Cruz fluffer, among others) aren't -- unlike GQ, Vogue and TPM -- part of the EMESSEM.
Byers is so dishonest that he purports to quote Peggy Nooners as conceding Davis' greatness. Is Byers a lying sack? Judge for yourself.
Update (two minutes later): I see Charles Pierce has already sliced and diced Byers like Ron Popeil's uncle on speed.