Or, how the McCain camp has gone all in trying to eliminated the press from the campaign process. Jonathan Chait at TNR in "Liar's Poker":
After years of portraying him as a uniquely honorable figure in American politics, the national press corps has started to take note of his brazen distortions, a development that may threaten his most precious asset. But we should consider an alternate possibility. Suppose that McCain has committed himself, with the Palin pick, to running a campaign centered around mobilizing the Republican base. He has enjoyed clear success with this since the Palin pick, attracting larger crowds, drawing higher fund-raising totals, and even seeing dramatically higher numbers of voters identifying themselves as Republicans in polls.
If this is McCain's strategy, then a bunch of news reports debunking his claims isn't going to hurt. Indeed it may even help.
P.S. Chait asserts, "McCain's untruths, in their frequency and their audacity, defy any modern historical precedent."
Really? We're pretty sure we could make a compelling case that in 2004 and 2000 George Bush was just as liberal with his campaign trail lies. But for some reason back then, the press didn't think it was its job to fact-check the GOP falsehoods.
John McCain just said "As of this morning I suspended my political campaign." The news media continues to uncritically report that he has done so. (Current CNN chyron: "McCain speaks at Global Initiative; suspending campaign to work on bailout.")
Well, is he, really? Are his campaign offices around the country empty? Are his campaign staff and volunteers at home, catching up on their laundry? Is his web page rejecting attempted contributions?
"Suspended my campaign" isn't a vague phrase; it means something very specific. It means his campaign has stopped. If it isn't true, he's lying, and it exposes this whole thing as nothing more than a political stunt -- a political stunt designed to portray him as above politics.
But the media doesn't even seem to be trying to determine whether the campaign is actually suspended. They're just accepting it.
UPDATE: McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds is currently on MSNBC. A few minutes ago, Nancy Pfotenhauer was on FOX. In neither case has the anchor asked the McCain spokesperson why s/he is going on television if the campaign is "suspended."
Eric Alterman dissects Wednesday's McCain's leaning edition of ABC's daily tip sheet.
The Beltway daily this afternoon posted a round-up of reactions to McCain's demand that Friday's debate be delayed. The first 31 paragraphs of the article are filled with, frankly, predictable quotes from partisans either backing McCain or questioning his maneuver, which gave readers the impression that people were truly divided over the issue.
What came in paragraphs 32-34? Reference to instant polling data that showed the public by a huge margin said delaying Friday's debate would be a mistake. i.e. "Roughly three out of every four Americans think the debate should go on as scheduled."
Note to editors: That's tonight's headline.
Moments before President Bush spoke from the White House about the state of the economy, CNN's Wolf Blitz announced that Bush, "faces an uphill battle to convince the American people he knows what he's doing."
We're all for independently fact-checking candidates during the campaign. In fact, it seems to be all the rage. But who's going to fact-check the fact-checkers?
Unfortunately, PoliFact, a joint venture between the St. Petersburg Times and CQ magazine, falls down while trying to get to the bottom of Sarah Palin rape kit story. PoliFact fails because it fundamentally misstates the central issue of the controversy.
The rape kit story is a somewhat complicated one and by all means visit PoliFact for the background information provided. The simple explanation is that in 2000 the Alaska legislature passed a law forbidding towns from charging rape victims (or their insurance companies) for the cost of the traumatic, forensic examines needed to collect evidence for sexual assault crimes. One of the towns charging was Wasilla when Sarah Palin was mayor.
The story, for obvious reasons, has received some mainstream media attention and even more online.
Here's how PoliFact frames the question and where PoliFact gets in immediate trouble:
SUMMARY: Bloggers contend Palin supported a city policy that charged sexual assault victims for forensic exams. We find the truth is murky.
Wrong. Bloggers have not, for the most part, dwelt on whether Palin "supported" the city policy. They have dwelt on the fact that while mayor of Wasilla the policy existed. The notion freaked them out.
It's a subtle but telling difference. Becuase instead of focusing on the very simple question of whether it was accurate to say that Wasilla, under Palin, had a policy of charging rape victims for the sexual assault exams, PoliFact gets bogged down on whether Palin "supported" it.
But wouldn't the simple fact that Palin, as mayor of a very small town and who had authority over the budget process, okayed a budget where the rape kit policy was implemented prove Palin "supported" it? Or was she in the habit of signing off on city budgetary initiatives she disapproved of?
It seems like common sense to us. But because PoliFact can't find any quotes of Palin supporting the rape kit policy, PoliFact claims "the bloggers' charge" is "Half True."
The half that's not true? The half that the bloggers don't really care about; whether Palin technically "supported" the controversial policy.
All three cable news channels, along with various other media, are reporting that John McCain is "suspending" his presidential campaign. But the news reports I have seen haven't established that this has actually happened. Has all campaign work -- GOTV planning, speechwriting, etc -- stopped? Are McCain campaign staffers streaming out of campaign offices all across the country, going home indefinitely? If so, it should be easy enough for news organizations to confirm that the campaign is really "suspending." Otherwise, media should probably stop reporting McCain's spin as fact.
Remember the Times' Sunday magazine valentine to Limbaugh in July that lovingly described the right-wing talker as, among other things, "a singular political force"? But that was only after the Times completely buried all the offensive and hateful things Rush has said over the years. (And only after the Times hired a Dittohead to write the profile.)
And that's been the media's M.O. for years when dealing with Limbaugh; whitewash the hate and present him as either being thoughtful or just an entertainer.
But as the Daily Howler got us wondering today, does the Times still feels comfortable with its description of Limbaugh as a "singular political force" (i.e. as a serious thinker) in the wake of his blatantly race-based smear on Barack Obama this week?
As the Howler asks, "Will the mainstream press corps ever speak about the foul mess [Limbaugh] maintains in their midst? Or will they decide, for the ten millionth time, that it's safer to keep their traps shut?"