Ed Driscoll

Think The Press Wasn't In The Bag For Kerry?

Even after he lost, Evan Thomas’s Newsweek refers to the man with the Magic Hat as “Lincolnesque“.

Had the situation been reversed, would they have used that word to describe the outgoing president, a man who brought “scary” democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq?

And while the Newsweek piece is a pretty good “behind the scenes” article, note that its author still hasn’t figured out President Bush’s “strategery” in dealing with the press:

Somehow, though, the long-awaited Bush collapse wasn’t happening, at least not yet. Iraq seemed to be in flames. At a press conference in mid-April, Bush told a reporter that, try as he might, he just couldn’t think of a mistake he had made since 9/11. The press and the chattering classes hooted in derision. But Bush actually went up in the polls. Most voters seemed to like the president’s show of resolve. Kerry was baffled. He said with a sigh to one top staffer, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this idiot.”

That “idiot” was smart enough to know that the goal of the press in asking that question was to create an opportunity for their candidate to pummel Bush by using any professed mistakes against him. And smart enough not to play the game.

Wonder if Kerry–and the press–still think that Bush is an idiot?

Of course they do.

Update: Would you be surprised to learn that Kerry camp asked the networks not to call Ohio (and the race) until they told them to?? Buried in a New York Times article about Tuesday night is this tidbit:

The critical moment came at 12:41 a.m. Wednesday, when, shortly after Florida had been painted red for Mr. Bush, Fox News declared that Ohio – and, very likely, the presidency – was in Republican hands.

Howard Wolfson, a strategist, burst into the “boiler room” in Washington where the brain trust was huddled and said, “we have 30 seconds” to stop the other networks from following suit.

The campaign’s pollster, Mark Mellman, and the renowned organizer Michael Whouley quickly dialed ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC – and all but the last refrained from calling the race through the night. Then Mr. Wolfson banged out a simple, two-line statement expressing confidence that Mr. Kerry would win Ohio once the remaining ballots were counted.

“What was driving our decision making was the memory of how in 2000, by allowing Florida to go for Bush, a lot of momentum was blocked,” said one person who was in the room. “Our whole goal was stop the train from moving that way.”

Train stopped, lawyers and strategists at the campaign’s Washington headquarters prepared court papers to challenge Ohio’s process for counting provisional ballots, and made spreadsheets comparing each county’s provisional ballots with its margin of victory or defeat.

Once Mr. Kerry woke up, he and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, asked myriad questions in a series of conference calls with the staff. Mr. Edwards, aides said, wanted to soldier on.

“He did talk to Kerry and told him the importance of going the length they could to make sure all outstanding votes were counted because it was such a big component of the campaign,” said one Democrat close to the campaign. “He conveyed his point of view and Kerry made his own decision.”

The Times reports this as though it’s (to borrow one of my wife’s favorite words), a nothingburger, but isn’t it further proof of how intertwined Kerry and the media were? (And note the insuination by the Times that Fox threw the election to the president.)

Imagine if Karl Rove had called up the big three and CNN–or even Fox–and said, “Boys, don’t call this race until we tell you to, OK?”

Think they’d listen?