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McCain and the Media: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Is Republican John McCain's unique relationship with the liberal media a liability or an asset for his presidential run? Sheryl Longin wonders.

by
Sheryl Longin

Bio

February 21, 2008 - 11:36 am

Today’s murky New York Times front page McCain hit piece comes at an interesting time, to say the least. Hot on the heels of the first visible chink in the Obama campaign (a mother of a faux pas, mostly ignored by the MSM, but merely exacerbated by the “apologies” of the offender and newly revealed Achilles heel of the candidate, his wife Michelle), the McCain story has ignited the press, public and blogosphere like almost nothing since this interminable race began. Almost nothing, I say, except for the obvious — Obama-mania. For the first time in recent history, we are facing an election where both political parties’ frontrunners are actually liked by the media. Watching how this plays itself out is truly bizarre.

While drawing attention away from Mrs. Obama’s problematic and polarizing views, to the temporary advantage of the Obama campaign, with this one story, the NYT has singlehandedly managed to do for the McCain campaign what the candidate and a host of articulate advocates was unable to do for himself — rally the conservative base. That they haven’t lost their political influence must be cold comfort for the powers-that-be at the “paper of record.” Especially when their efforts are so transparent even a “View” host questions their integrity.

Ironically, precisely because both men are genuinely admired (for different reasons) by journalists as much as by the people, McCain and Obama are perfect candidates to preside over the demise of the MSM. If they are rubber, the press is glue. Accusations tend to bounce off these candidates, and stick to the accusers. Even worse, they rally the supporters against the media, at a time when public trust in the press is at an all time low. It’s odd to be at a place in history when journalists are held in lower esteem than politicians. But it’s sure starting to look that way. Suddenly, campaign ’08 may truly be all about “change.”

Sheryl Longin is the author of Dorian Greyhound: A Novel and co-screenwriter of the movie Dick
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