Rather than simply repeating John McCain's assertion that he has suspended his campaign, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein actually did a little work to determine if that is true. His conclusion? "McCain Campaign Still Active Across The Country."
And yet MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell is still saying -- just now -- "John McCain suprised many yesterday by suspending his campaign and announcing that he was returning to Washington." O'Donnell certainly isn't unique -- she's just the person who happened to say it as I was writing this post. The major media, almost across the board, is repeating the McCain line that he has suspended his campaign.
This is really simple: John McCain has not suspended his campaign. His campaign staffers are on television, attacking Barack Obama. His ads are still running. His campaign offices are still buzzing with activity.
He. Has. Not. Suspended. His. Campaign.
Anyone who says he has simply isn't telling the truth.
Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg writes:
Voters shouldn't judge a candidate by his skin color. Maybe, but is it any more unfair than, for example, saying that because McCain and President Bush are both Republicans that a McCain administration would produce a third Bush term? No, it isn't.
First, people aren't saying that a McCain administration would produce a third Bush term because McCain and Bush are both Republicans. They're saying it because McCain voted with Bush 95 percent of the time last year - highest in the Senate - and 90 percent of the time since Bush took office. They're saying it because McCain has bragged about how much he agrees with Bush. They're saying it because McCain supports Bush's war. They're saying it because McCain supports Bush's tax cuts for the rich.
Aside from that ... seriously? Rothenberg thinks it is no more unfair to judge a candidate by his skin color than to judge him by the political party he chooses to join? Candidates presumably choose which party to join based on their assessment of which party best reflects their values and policy views. They are intentionally telling voters something about themselves by the party they choose. I assume it is obvious how that differs from skin color.
Thanks to Media Matters intern Varun Piplani for flagging Rothenberg's claim.
I guess the consensus is that McCain is making a not very smart bet with this $700B move. I'll just note that, whatever else it is, his decision to "suspend" his campaign and rush to the sort of rescue is a genuine reflection of McCain's temperament and as good an indicator as any of what kind of president he'd be: impulsive, active, involved, somewhat immune to advice.
"Active"? "Involved"? As of Tuesday, McCain still hadn't bothered to read Paulson's three-page bailout proposal. Yesterday afternoon, he claimed he was "suspending" his campaign to focus on the bailout negotions. Yet he took his time getting back to Washington to do so -- long enough that an agreement seems to have been reached without him.
That's what counts as "involved" these days?
Today's headline: "Fundraisers for McCain bring in pork."
As Daily Kos diarist PA mnon notes, the usually dependably conservative Times takes a very tough look at at the campaign's rhetoric.
MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, interviewing Sen. Claire McCaskill about the proposed bailout: "I'm talking politics and strategy, not good governance."
Ok ... when is MSNBC going to get around to the "good governance" part?
The noteworthy thing about this Ann Coulter headline is not that she's referencing one of the most noxious political ads of all time in order to stroke resentment of African Americans during a political campaign featuring the first African American major-party presidential nominee. That kind of behavior is pretty much par for the course from Coulter.
The noteworthy thing about the headline is that Ann Coulter is so eager - desperate, even - to do so that she makes the false and nonsensical suggestion that banks have spent the past several years handing out too few mortgages. That the problem is that qualified borrowers were not able to obtain a mortgage.
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.