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Discussing a potential general election matchup between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, CNBC chief Washington correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood asserted on the May 11 edition of NBC's Meet the Press that, though "many Republicans would find [it] ironic," "McCain's people are going to say that the press is pro-Obama." Harwood added, "Now, John McCain's benefited from very friendly press coverage for many years, but he's going to try to argue, which will have a corollary benefit of rallying conservatives, if he can pull it off, of saying, 'The press wants Obama to win. I'm pushing back, too.' " Host Tim Russert responded, "In 2002, John McCain referred to the press as his base," to which Harwood replied, "They were his base." Russert then said, "Speak for yourself, Harwood."
But while Russert disavowed any association with the media who, in Harwood's words, "were" McCain's "base," Russert's colleague, Chris Matthews, has put himself in that very group. On the September 10, 2006, edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Matthews said, "The press loves McCain. We're his base, I think, sometimes."
The Center for American Progress' blog Think Progress noted Harwood's and Russert's comments in a May 11 blog post.
From the May 11 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
GERALD SEIB (assistant managing editor and executive Washington editor of The Wall Street Journal): You know, I spent some time at Obama headquarters on Friday, and that was a lot of the discussion there. You know, people don't realize yet, there's going to be real policy debate in this campaign. This is about to become a real divide between two candidates with different views. Health care, I think, is the best example. And in the Hamas episode, which we were just discussing, there is yet another element that was in there, embedded in there, that you didn't mention. We've seen in our Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling all year, the one area where Republicans can still claim an advantage is national security and military affairs. The McCain people are going to go at that time and time again, and that's why John McCain jumped on the Hamas statement so quickly.
HARWOOD: But I do think it's important to point out, Barack Obama was not talking about age in that comment. This was the McCain campaign trying to work the referees in advance, trying to conflate losing his bearings. Barack Obama's been saying similar things. The Straight Talk Express has popped a couple of wheels lately and gone off. It's about -- he's making an argument about McCain diverting from principle. But this was the McCain campaign trying to frame the parameters of acceptable argument. And one of the interesting things they're going to make, which many Republicans would find ironic, is McCain's people are going to say that the press is pro-Obama. Now, John McCain's benefited from very friendly press coverage for many years, but he's going to try to argue, which will have a corollary benefit of rallying conservatives, if he can pull it off, of saying, "The press wants Obama to win. I'm pushing back, too."
RUSSERT: In 2002, John McCain referred to the press as his base.
HARWOOD: They were his base.
RUSSERT: Speak for yourself, Harwood.