Ed Driscoll

John McCain, Chris Christie, Charlie Brown and the Football

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“The Democrats and the media are now throwing everything they can at him, because they know he is the only guy that can beat Hillary,” said Robert Grand, a major fund-raiser for the party, who is based in Indiana.

Whatever the network’s motivation, it is a jarring change for the New Jersey governor, long the subject of warm and laudatory coverage from the network’s hosts.

Ms. Brzezinski called him “my friend,” her co-anchor Joe Scarborough called him “my main man,” and Chris Matthews referred to him, with the familiarity of a family member, as “the guy we like around here.”

Network figures have hailed him as a gutsy bipartisan hero and a role model for an obstructionist party in need of overhaul. (“I have some advice for all those Republicans trying to re-brand their party,” Al Sharpton said on his show last year. “Watch Chris Christie.”)

Off camera, the governor developed close ties to anchors like Ms. Brzezinski, even showing up at her book signing not long ago. Immediately after Mr. Christie concluded his apologetic news conference about the controversy last week, he spent 15 minutes on the phone with Ms. Brzezinski as he prepared to face Fort Lee, the small community crippled by gridlock from the lane closures, she said.

“For Christie and MSNBC, a Messy Divorce Plays Out in Public View,” the New York Times, yesterday.

A crucial turning point in the presidential race came when the McCain campaign ended its candidate’s habitual informal interactions with the press. The area of the McCain campaign plane where a couch had been installed so the Arizonian could hold court with journalists was cut off with a dark curtain, marking the end of an era.

Since 2000, John McCain had thrived on his irrepressible chattiness with the press, talking about anything reporters wanted for as long as they would listen. The press loved the access and avoided “gotcha” coverage, letting McCain explain any seeming gaffes. The arrangement worked beautifully for both sides — until McCain became the Republican presidential nominee.

Suddenly, he wasn’t afforded the same old courtesy from reporters, and he had to go about the grim business of driving a daily message. With the end of the running bull sessions, a trial separation began with the press that became a divorce that became a feud.

The enduring scandal of the McCain campaign is that it wants to win. The press had hoped for a harmless, nostalgic loser like Bob Dole in 1996. In a column excoriating Republicans for historically launching successful attacks against Democratic presidential candidates in August, Time columnist Joe Klein excepted Bob Dole — not mentioning that Dole had been eviscerated by Clinton negative ads before August ever arrived.

The press turned on McCain with a vengeance as soon as he mocked Barack Obama as a celebrity. Its mood grew still more foul when the McCain campaign took offense at Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” jab. “The media are getting mad,” according to Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz. “Stop the madness,” urged Time’s Mark Halperin, exhorting his fellow journalists to fight back against the McCain campaign’s manufactured outrage.

—”McCain’s Scandal: The press has turned on McCain with a vengeance,” Rich Lowry, National Review, September 16, 2008.

It was fun for McCain and Christie to cultivate leftwing journalists, scoring brownie points with the press by shafting their fellow Republicans in the process. But when crunchtime comes, journalists will always support a Democrat for president; and part of that process means screwing their former “friend,” whether it’s John McCain, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, or any other candidate with an (R) after his name.

Why don’t Republicans with aspirations for higher office ever seem to learn this lesson?

Related: “Four New Democrat Scandals the Kill-Christie Media’s Covering Up.”