Enough with the town hall talk, already.
We get it. John McCain wanted to have a series of of regularly scheduled town hall forums with Barack Obama. They never happened.
And by now we all know the WaPo's dean of centrism was deeply disappointed by that. But four months later does Broder still need to hitting that point? In today's column, it's literally one of Broder's key take-aways from the entire campaign.
The issue has certainly been weight heavily on his mind:
*"That is why a pair of strategy decisions made in the past two weeks could prove troublesome for him. The first was Obama's turning down McCain's invitation to join him in a series of town hall meetings where they would appear together and answer questions from real voters." [June 22]
*On June 4, McCain proposed 10 town-hall-style debates before screened audiences of uncommitted independent voters across the country. [Aug. 7]
*"The matchup could have come much earlier, but Obama turned down McCain's invitation to join in a series of town hall meetings during the summer." [Sept. 21]
*"He has been condemned for small-minded partisanship, not praised for his generous and important suggestion that the major-party candidates stump the country together, conducting weekly joint town hall meetings -- an innovation Obama urned down." [Oct. 30]
From Time: "How McCain Thinks He Can Win Pennsylvania."
As the article itself notes, McCain is trailing in Pa. by between 7-14 points in the most recent polls. That means there are very few political pro's, including reporters covering the race, who likely think McCain can erase a double-digit deficit in five days, simply because there's no recent White House campaign election precedent for that.
Nonetheless, scribes seemed determine to wring out some drama from the Keystone State. (See yesterday's Boston Globe.) And so Time opts for the mind-reading approach: How McCain thinks he can win Pa.
If Time's campaign reporters doubt McCain can win Pa., why is it news that McCain thinks he can?
One of the things that struck us about the Minneapolis Star Tribune's coverage of the Frank/Norm Coleman race was the Strib's almost complete lack of news coverage surrounding Coleman's embarrassing Suitgate story. That's the one about a wealthy Coleman donor, Nasser Kazeminy, who had allegedly bought expensive suits for the politician at Neiman Marcus.
By our count, the Strib devoted a total of 53 words to straight news coverage to the story, even though it went national on the cable news channels. And yes, there's been all kinds of Twin City buzz that the Strib spiked a news story about Suitgate.
With that in mind, it was interesting to see a couple of Strib reporters trying to get answers from Coleman yesterday about an apparent lawsuit that suggests Coleman's wife received $75,000 wtih the help from the same Kazeminy. See the reporters in action here.
Nothing yet in the pages of the Strib about this breaking development.
UPDATE: The Nation reports on the lawsuit in question.
By the end of this month, FNC will likely have mentioned the community organizing group nearly 1,500 times, according to TVeyes.com. (The tally currently hovers around 1,480, which is about 1,300 more than CNN). The cabler's over-the-top obsession with the group's urban-based voter registration initiative has become something of a running campaign joke.
Yet asked about it in Politico, retiring Fox News anchor Brit Hume took great pride, boasting, "We had a great run on ACORN."
Hume's self-satisfying view really does capture the FNC ethos. Because in truth, Fox News never advanced the ACORN story one inch. It never broke any news. It never contributing anything journalistically to the story. Meaning, news organizations never (I don't think) had to cite Fox News for anything regarding its ACORN coverage. And its reporting certainly had no impact on the overall campaign.
Fox News couldn't stop talking about ACORN, and yet FOX News never managed to uncovering anything newsworthy about ACORN. It just rehashed and speculated, rehashed and speculated.
Still, Hume boasts FNC had a "great run" on the story. Why, because it filled up endless hours of Fox News programming? Is that how Hume determines a Fox News success?
Goes to the Boston Globe: "Obama on defense in Pa. as McCain senses an opening."
Fact from Globe article: "Obama's advisers point out that almost every public poll over the last month shows Obama with a double-digit lead."
Let's just say McCain probably wishes he was on the "defense" in PA. like Obama is.
Morris appears on the opinion pages of the Boston Herald to announce that John McCain can still win this election. And that McCain's climb isn't really that daunting because lots of candidates have pulled off White House comebacks, just like McCain can.
The hitch is that Morris has to reinvent the recent past to make the claim stand up. We know Morris is no stranger to fiction, but this bout of creative writing (i.e. fabricating) seems especially noteworthy.
Yes, McCain's a long shot ,Morris admits, announcing that the Republican is trailing by nearly 7 points in the national polls. But that's okay, he reassures the faithful:
it is not too late for the Republican to pull out a victory. Three times in the past 30 years a presidential race shifted dramatically in the final week.
Wow, really? Three times in the last 30 years somebody has come back from as far back as McCain "in the final week" and won the White House? Well, technically, no. In fact, nobody in the last 30 years has come back from nearly seven points down "in the last week" to win the election. And, I'm guessing nobody ever will.
But let's watch Morris reinvent the past.
*"In 1980, Reagan came from eight points behind to a solid victory by winning his sole debate with Carter in the last week of October."
*"In 1992, Clinton, who had fallen behind in the polls because of the pounding he was taking over his liberalism and propensity to raise taxes, surged ahead of Bush when Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh announced that he was indicting Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, an indication of Bush's possible complicity in the Iran-Contra scandal."
*"And in 2000, Bush's 3 to 4 point lead in the polls was erased over the final weekend when reports surfaced that he had been cited for DWI 20 years before and had not revealed the fact to the public. Bush still won the election, of course, but Gore won the popular vote by half a point."
Just for the record, neither Reagan in 1980, nor Clinton in `92, nor Bush in 2000 were ever behind by nearly seven points with one week to go. Not one of them. Yet that's the proof Morris concocts on the eve of Election Day.
From the latest weekly survey from Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism:
In a campaign and media environment now focused strongly on the shape of the race, one staple of weekly coverage is the attention to strategy and tactics. Coverage of swing state battles (10% of the newshole), polls (6%), and fundraising (5%), and some other related storylines accounted for about one-quarter of last week's newshole. Add in the Powell endorsement (at 6%), which was frequently discussed in terms of its political potency, and that broad theme fills almost 30% of the coverage.
And this from Politico [emphasis added]:
Reporters obsess about personalities and process, about whose staff are jerks or whether they seem like decent folks, about who has a great stump speech or is funnier in person than they come off in public, about whether Michigan is in play or off the table.
Notice what campaign reporters are not obsessed with? Issues. Or more specifically, what candidates will do once elected. Seems like that's what campaign reporters are there for; to help educate news consumers. Journalists disagree. They want to know who's funnier and who's a jerk.
The Washington Post uncritically reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asserted: "As a result of being chosen by my colleagues to be the Republican leader, I've got people all over America who would love to see me lose, so there's money coming in from San Francisco and Chicago and New York trying to tear down your senator." The Post did not report that it is McConnell who is leading in out-of-state contributions, having received $5,721,759 from out-of-state individuals, 57 percent of his total from individual donors, while his opponent, Bruce Lunsford, has received $160,050 from out-of-state individuals, 31 percent of his total from individual donors.
Over the weekend we noted how the Minneapolis paper seems to have its thumb on the scale while covering the very close U.S. Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman.
We noted the oddity of Strib editor Nancy Barnes announcing, via memo, that the newspaper columnists who appear in the news pages would no longer be allowed to weigh in on the campaign, and making that announcement one day after a Strib columnist labeled Franken a slanderer of Christianity.
Another Barnes memo, this one from September, also raised eyebrows because the editor so clearly aped right-wing talking points about the media, and practically accused her own staff of a built-in bias.
It is more important than ever that we be vigilant about stripping any bias from our reporting and/or editing...We are all human, and some among our staff may privately be pulling for one candidate or another. But let's take extra care to make sure personal opinion doesn't show up in the news pages.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes:
Military ballots are being tossed in Fairfax Co, VA because of a "technicality." Not a lot of them compared to the size of the electorate, but more than a few.
Democrats insist they're biased towards access... so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?
Of course, another way to look at it would be: "Republicans insist they're biased towards the rule of law ... so will they support the rejection of these ballots?"
But Ambinder didn't raise that question.
It probably doesn't surprise anyone to see either party take whichever position on "technicalities" they think will help them win. After all, they're trying to win. But what is Marc Ambinder trying to do in suggesting only the Democrats are guilty of such inconsistency?
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly stated on The O'Reilly Factor that "we're going to document every ACORN situation and any other voter fraud," but according to a Media Matters search of Nexis, the program has yet "to document" the reported complaints against Young Political Majors, a group hired by the Republican Party to register voters.
The headlines reads "A Glimmer of hope for GOP," and the article does it best to stitch together polling data to showcase the Republican talking point that there's been real movement toward McCain.
Politico is relatively honest in terms of presenting the numbers that don't add up for McCain. But the whole article has a definite, well-it's-possible vibe to it. (Which, the drama-starved press much prefers.)
Politico could have just as easily used the same topic and the same numbers to show how, based on all the data, the "comeback" talk (i.e. there's been a significant shift in McCain's favor) remains hollow.
Discussing the history of taxation and property rights in the United States, War Room with Quinn & Rose co-host Jim Quinn declared: "Originally, if you didn't own land, you didn't vote, and there was a good reason for it: because those without property will always vote away the property of other people unto themselves, and that's the beginning of the end." Quinn added: "But, oh no, that was -- that was just too mean-spirited."
Last week, I explained the problem with assuming that voter registration forms for voters with "funny" names:
That's Drudge's point here - Hahahaha, they tried to register Mickey Mouse! Fools! But here's the thing: there are 32 people named "Mickey Mouse" listed in the White Pages nationwide, including two in Florida ... On MSNBC, NBC deputy political director Mark Murray just referred to "Harry Potter" and "Han Solo" as other obviously fake names. There are 77 Harry Potters in the White Pages. No Han Solos, but there is a Hans Solo. And 8 Luke Skywalkers. This is really simple: You cannot tell that a voter registration form is illegitimate based solely on the name.
As I noted at the time, the United States is a nation of 300 million people. They aren't all named Fred Jones. Assuming that a name is fake just because it is unusual, or "funny," or the same as the name of a celebrity, is nothing short of stupid.
Unfortunately, that's a lesson some people have to learn the hard way. Jed L at Daily Kos points out that the National Review's Jim Geraghty made a fool of himself by mocking American Prospect writer Adam Serwer based on just such an assumption:
Now, unless A. Serwer thinks that there is actually a registered voter named "Duran Duran" in New Mexico, he ought to refrain from sputtering that those who disagree with him are 'racist' and 'paranoid.'
You see where this is going, don't you? Yep.
Here's Geraghty's follow-up:
UPDATE: I am floored by the fact that the white pages for Albuquereque, New Mexico has a listing for "Duran Duran." Mea culpa.
Open Left's Matt Stoller makes the case.