This media narrative has already become quite tiresome: Joe Biden, while campaigning non-stop, often makes unscripted comments that journalists try desperately to whip into "gaffes" so they can write stories about how Biden is gaffe-prone. The Politico is the latest on the Biden-is-a-goof assembly line and the results are embarrassing. Not for Biden but for Politico.
Headlined, "Blue-collar vote, one gaffe at a time," readers likely expect Politico to provide a long list of gaffe's to substantiate the article, right? Wrong. Here's Politico money graph where it pretty much details all its proof of Biden's gaffey-ness:
Among other things, the Delaware senator has said that Hillary Rodham Clinton may have been a better vice presidential pick; accidentally referred to his partner as "Barack America"; told a wheelchair-bound man to "stand up"; and called Michelle Obama's convention speech "the most remarkable speech I have heard in my life."
Let's take those one at a time.
1. Biden's comment about Clinton came in response to a voter in New Hampshire who told Biden he was glad Barack Obama picked Biden over Clinton. Meaning, Biden was being a gentleman and saying something gracious about Clinton in return. The Politico left out the context.
2. So what if he referred to Obama as "Barack America"?
3. The wheelchair incident was indeed a gaffe and Biden quickly apologized for it.
4. Biden said Michelle Obama's speech the most remarkable he'd ever heard because that's what he believes. Who are Politico reporters to doubt Biden's word?
Elsewhere is the soggy story, Politico thinks it's a big deal that while campaigning in parts of Pennsylvania where there are lots of Catholic voters, Biden talks about his Irish Catholic roots.
Note to Politico: That's called smart campaigning, not making a gaffe.
The deep irony with the media's beloved, Biden-says-nutty-things narrative is that campaign journalists whine incessantly about how scripted candidates are and that their interaction with voters out on the trail isn't authentic. But when somebody like Biden comes along and communicates freely with voters and routinely ventures off-script, what does the press do? It mocks the candidate for not being scripted enough.
About the the just-released Ohio News Organization poll that shows McCain with a six point lead in that state. Why would a poll conducted between Sept. 12-16 not be released until Sept. 21? Did it really take the newspapers five days to crunch the numbers? And given the enormous news events that have occurred in the last five days, wouldn't the news orgs be concerned about the results being somewhat outdated?
Over at The Brad Blog, Brad Jacobson claims the press hasn't adequately delved into the potential game-changing results from recent campaign surveys.
"You might think it would garner at least as much attention as, say, lipstick-on-a-pig palooza," he writes. We concur.
The NYTimes has a lengthy, detailed look at the negotiations that have gone on between the two sides in preparation for the upcoming debates.
But we thought it was strange that not once did the Times raise questions about why the first debate is being held on a Friday night. We're guessing there is no precedent for that, since Friday night, along with Saturday, is one of the two least-watched television nights of the week. And as Daily Howler notes, in September entire sections of the country are attending high school football games on Friday night. So why hold the first presidential debate, which is arguably the most important, on a Friday night?
For the Times, the issue is of no interest, which we think highlights the growing disconnect between the political press and the public.
Also, David Broder pens a whole pre-debate column today. The fact that it's being held on Friday is of no interest to him.
The mag offers up five solid ways to overhaul to outdated prez debate formats. We like No. 2 in particular: "Refuse to send any repoters to any candidate's "spin room" after the debate ends."
On the CBS Evening News, Chip Reid uncritically aired video of Sen. John McCain claiming that the "crisis on Wall Street, my friends, started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence-peddling, and [Sen. Barack Obama] was right square in the middle of it." However, Reid did not mention McCain's own ties to the "Washington culture of lobbying." According to a Mother Jones report, "at least 83" McCain aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers "have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks."
Key words and phrases about Joe Biden from the Times' distinctly unserious A1 piece on Saturday:
-"flailing his arms"
-"penchant for verbal rambling"
-"part of the national political furniture for decades"
-"His skin is perma-tanned"
NYTimes today has an item about how the Obama campaign sent out a fundraising plea that mentioned the week's financial crisis and how the GOP attacked that as being tacky. Or, "the definition of political opportunism."
But why didn't the Times mention, as reported yesterday at the Huffington Post, that the McCain camp this week has also sent out fundraising requests that mention the ongoing financial crisis?
On Race for the White House, David Gregory aired a clip of Michelle Obama saying, "People shouldn't make a decision this time based on, 'I like that guy.' Or, you know, 'She's cute.' " Afterward, Gregory baselessly asserted, "She was talking about Governor Palin." At no point during the segment did Gregory note that Obama followed that comment by saying, "I'm talking about me."
The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain "says all options must be considered to stave off insolvency for the government insurance and retirement program [Social Security], and top McCain advisers say that includes so-called personal retirement accounts like those President Bush pushed in 2005 but abandoned in the face of congressional opposition." In fact, the Bush administration itself has admitted that private accounts themselves would do nothing to address Social Security's projected long-term revenue shortfall.
The Los Angeles Times reported, "[Sen. Barack] Obama has not taken a position on AIG's rescue, unlike [Sen. John] McCain, who has backed it." But the Times did not point out that the day before the bailout was announced, McCain indicated that he opposed a federal government bailout of AIG, asserting that "we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."
The Pulitzer Prizer-winner wonders why reporters don't ask McCain about his long-time legislative efforts to bury important information about Vietnam POW's. In his lengthy, well-researched investigation Schanberg notes:
John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn't return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.
In articles about the presidential candidates' responses to the economic crisis, several media outlets reported that the McCain campaign has attacked Sen. Barack Obama for what it says are his ties to lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, without noting that several senior McCain campaign aides have lobbied for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or both.
The media have for months reported complaints by the McCain campaign that they have favored his opponent in their coverage of the presidential race, while making little attempt to assess the accuracy of those complaints or to confirm or refute them. But in a review of the media's coverage of two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. Barack Obama and two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. John McCain -- specifically Obama's ties to Bill Ayers and Antoin Rezko, and McCain's dealings with donors whom he reportedly benefited and his association with G. Gordon Liddy -- Media Matters found that the five major newspapers and the three evening network news broadcasts have frequently mentioned Obama's ties to Ayers and Rezko, but have rarely mentioned McCain's dealings with donors and have ignored his association with Liddy.
The Christian Science Monitor takes a look, noting despite the truth-squadding Palin is still telling her BTN tale.