Why It Makes Sense For The McCain Camp To Attack The Media

by John Hawkins | August 18, 2008 5:26 am

John McCain has always run an uneven campaign. At times, you sit there scratching your head for weeks at a time trying to figure out what he’s doing and then, next thing you know, his campaign starts looking like it’s run by some sort of hybrid clone of Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Ed Rollins.

Right now, the McCain campaign is in “clone” mode and he’s running rings around the Obama campaign. McCain is putting out devastating attack ads, completely outclassing Obama in the first “debate” held by Rick Warren, and effectively hammering the media for being so heavily biased in Obama’s favor.

Take a look at the latest salvo the McCain team launched at NBC[1],

McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis asked Sunday for a meeting with Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, to protest what the campaign called signs that the network is “abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race.”

Davis made the request Sunday in a letter that is part of an aggressive effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to counter news coverage he considers critical.

In this case, the campaign is objecting to a statement by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on “Meet the Press” questioning whether McCain might have gotten a heads-up on some of the questions that were asked of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who was the first candidate to be interviewed Saturday night by Pastor Rick Warren at a presidential forum on faith.

Warren told the audience that McCain was being held in “a cone of silence” so he wouldn’t hear the questions, which were similar for both candidates.

Warren referred again to “the cone of silence” when McCain came onstage, and the senator joked: “I was trying to hear through the wall.”

Mitchell reported that some “Obama people” were suggesting “that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well prepared.”

A McCain aide said that is not the case: “Senator McCain was in a motorcade led by the United States Secret Service and held in a green room with no broadcast feed.”

Mitchell made the comment in the context of saying McCain did better, and that the Obama camp was defensive. In response to the campaign’s letter, she pointed out that journalists get criticism from both sides.

“I wasn’t expressing an opinion,” Mitchell said. “I was reporting what they were saying.”

This is beautiful in at least three different ways. It…

* Makes the Obama campaign look terrible for floating this dumb idea.

* Makes NBC look even worse to the public for uncritically passing it on with zero proof.

* Helps get the public focused on the fact that McCain did so much better than Obama at Warren’s event that they’re accusing him of cheating to explain it.

Incidentally, the McCain camp’s attacks on the media are a great strategy for a number of reasons. For example,

#1) The MSM bias in favor of Obama is even more ridiculously over-the-top than normal for an election year.

#2) Because McCain is much better liked by the press than most other Republicans and because he has gotten much better treatment from them in the past, their bias against him now stands out much more in the mind of the public and with members of the media.

#3) Because of #1 and #2, “working the refs” on stories like this will be much more effective than normal. Even a lot of the liberals in the press who usually reflexively claim that they’re neutral are having trouble rationalizing how biased the coverage is this time around.

#4) The American public generally distrusts negative stories about Republicans from the MSM because of bias. These attacks from McCain will reinforce that tendency and help undercut the the reputation of the MSM in general.

#5) Conservatives loathe the mainstream media and it fires them up to see McCain attacking the MSM.

So, let’s hope Johnny Mac keeps going after the media all the way through November.

  1. latest salvo the McCain team launched at NBC: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12594.html

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