What's missing from Adam Nagourney's New York Times profile of John McCain? Any indication that this is a bunch of bull:
Mr. McCain's friends said that in raising his profile, he was motivated not by concern at home, but by philosophical differences over the scope of Mr. Obama's health care proposals and spending measures.
"Had they reached out to him in a more genuine way, and not tried to pursue a pretty leftist agenda, I think they might have had a potential ally in John on certain things," said Senator Jon Kyl, Mr. McCain's fellow Republican from Arizona.
That would have been a perfect place for Nagourney to point out -- or at least quote a Democrat pointing out -- that Obama did reach out to Republicans, making massive concessions during the stimulus debate, in exchange for very little GOP support -- and none from John McCain.
But Nagourney didn't do that; he didn't include so much as a word of rebuttal to the claims that John McCain was ready to work with President Obama, but Obama refused to reach out to Republicans.
A few days ago, Politico did its own State-of-John-McCain article -- and it, too, uncritically quoted claims that McCain was outraged by a lack of bipartisanship by Obama:
Mark Salter, McCain's former Senate chief of staff, ghostwriter and close confidant, said McCain may have responded differently if Obama had governed more from the center.
"You can't expect him to do things that are antithetical to his beliefs," said Salter, who still talks to the senator multiple times each week.
Discussing Obama's first big initiative, the stimulus, Salter said that his old boss could not get behind what was mostly an infrastructure spending bill.
"If [Obama] had said we're going to do this half my way and half your way, guys like John McCain and others would have been all over it," he said.
Politico didn't include any mention of the concessions Obama made to Republicans on the stimulus, either.
The New York Times' write-up of its new poll paints a dire picture for health care reform:
Poll Shows Obama's Clout on Health Care Is Eroding
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MEGAN THEE-BRENAN
President Obama's ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government takeover that could limit Americans' ability to chose their doctors and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Americans are concerned that overhauling the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatments and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy - a central argument made by Mr. Obama - has dropped over the past month.
Uh-oh! Sounds bad, doesn't it? But look how easy it is to write that article differently, based on the same poll (PDF link):
Poll Shows Strong Support for Reform; Obama More Trusted Than GOP
By BIZARRO ADAM NAGOURNEY AND BIZARRO MEGAN THEE-BRENAN
President Obama continues to enjoy significant advantage over his Republican counterparts when it comes to who the public trusts to reform health care, and the American people continue to overwhelmingly favor sweeping reform, even in the face of efforts by opponents to negatively define Mr. Obama's proposals, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.
The poll found that fully 90 percent of Americans think it is necessary to make "fundamental changes" or "completely rebuild" the health care system. President Obama enjoys a 29-point advantage over congressional Republicans on the question of who has better ideas to reform the system. The percentage of people who think the health care system needs to be fixed now as part of fixing the overall economy has increased in recent weeks, and the percentage who think the US cannot afford to fix health care now has decreased.
Seventy-six percent of Americans consider the rising cost of health care a threat to the nation's economy. Sixty-six percent support the "government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan - something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get - that would compete with private health insurance plans?" Sixty-five percent support tax increases on "Americans with high incomes" in order to pay for reform.
Eighty percent of Americans are concerned that if the government does not create a system for providing health care for all Americans, the number of uninsured people will increase. Sixty-six percent are concerned that absent such reform, they personally might be without coverage at some point. Seventy-five percent worry that absent such reform, the cost of their own health care will go up.
Keep that in mind when you see cable news freak out over the Times article tomorrow: The very same poll contains a ton of data that should be encouraging for those who favor significant reform.
UPDATE: Also worth noting: Much of the public skepticism the real New York Times article detailed is based on misconceptions -- like the concern that reform would "limit ... options in choosing doctors." Well, it wouldn't. So who cares if people think it might? If such reform is enacted, they'll pretty quickly see that they can still go to their doctor, and that concern will dissipate.
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In a "Political Memo," Adam Nagourney distorted a quote from Sen. Barack Obama's Berlin speech in which Obama referred to himself as "a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world." Nagourney cited only the second part of the quote, telling readers to "expect" that in future ads Sen. John McCain will highlight "Mr. Obama's presenting himself as a 'fellow citizen of the world.' "
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reported that Sen. John McCain will attack Sen. Barack Obama for supporting "tax increases," but Nagourney didn't note that Obama has proposed tax cuts for "working-class voters" and others. Nagourney joins other media outlets that have uncritically reported or failed to challenge assertions by the McCain campaign that Obama plans to raise taxes on all or most Americans.
In online articles discussing Sen. Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing for the general election, both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Sen. John McCain "has been a champion of public financing." But neither article noted that McCain claims to have opted out of public financing -- and has exceeded spending limits under the public financing system -- during the primary season or that the FEC chairman has taken the position that McCain cannot legally opt out without FEC approval.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney suggested Sen. Barack Obama had highlighted Sen. John McCain's age when he said that McCain was "losing his bearings," but Nagourney failed to note that Obama made the comment in response to a smear by McCain and was accusing McCain of violating his pledge to avoid negative campaigning.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney stated in a March 24 online piece that aides to Sen. John McCain "are beginning to see a general election upside ... to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries." However, Nagourney did not mention that McCain reacted to those perceived "problems" by abandoning his own comprehensive immigration reform plan.
A New York Times article about possible attacks against Sen. Barack Obama in the general election reported that Sen. John McCain's aides said "their first line of attack would be to portray [Obama] as a liberal, and they have already begun pointing to a rating in The National Journal, based on his votes, of Mr. Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate." But among the "liberal" positions Obama took to earn the distinction of "most liberal senator in 2007" were his votes to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage.
In a January 30 New York Times news analysis of Sen. John McCain's victory over Mitt Romney in the Florida primary, Adam Nagourney wrote that while McCain "presents himself as a man of principle ... who is willing to suffer the political consequences for breaking with party orthodoxy," Romney "is in line with all the proper positions for a Republican conservative, but he underwent a series of transformations to get there, leaving him vulnerable to the charges of inconsistency Mr. McCain has hurled." Yet on immigration and abortion, McCain too has displayed "evolution" and "inconsistency," a fact nowhere to be found in the Times report.