Archive for July 22nd, 2008


Media Matters

Over the last several days, the presidential campaign may have entered into a new dimension. On Friday, the op-ed editor of The New York Times rejected an essay by Senator John McCain, which the McCain campaign had submitted to the newspaper as a response to an essay by Senator Barack Obama published there a week or so earlier. In suggesting a way for McCain to revise his essay for possible publication, the editor wrote, “It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece.”

The fall-out from the Times‘ refusal to publish McCain’s response to the Obama essay comes at the same time the television networks are providing Obama with elaborate coverage of his trip to the Middle East that is so staged NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has accused Obama of conducting “fake interviews.” Finally, there’s the network coverage of McCain himself. When he arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Monday for campaign appearances–in a state that will be critical in the fall election–he was met by just one reporter and one still photographer.

All of this makes members of the McCain campaign feel that the public may begin finally to question the overall coverage of the presidential race itself. The question may then be asked: Why is Obama receiving such extensive coverage when McCain is being all but ignored? If this happens, the McCain campaign believes there may be a backlash as the public starts to feel that it is being manipulated by the coverage of the two candidates–not informed. “Obama is being packaged and marketed in a well-orchestrated Madison-Avenue-style advertising campaign,” someone close to the McCain campaign told me. “Eventually, the public will realize that what they are being sold is an empty suit.”

Unlike the race in 2000, this time around McCain is in it for the long haul. With the national opinion polls remaining close, the tipping-point issue could be the very way the media is covering the race–and the public’s reaction to it. And if anyone knows about the media, it’s John McCain, since not so long ago it was McCain who was the media’s darling. The same people who are dismissing him now once heaped praise on him–and seemed to mean it. It will be interesting to see if the tactical advantage in the race shifts to McCain simply because of the way he’s being treated by the members of the media he once considered to be his friends.

July 2008