James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for April 29th, 2008

John McCain and me

Posted by James McPherson on April 29, 2008

I worked for several years as a reporter covering politics–mostly local, though one of my early political interviews as a 23-year-old editor of the Gilbert News (later the Gilbert Independent) in Arizona was of John McCain. He was running for national office for the first time, and I actually remember little about the interview other than the fact that it came on the spur of the moment and I wasn’t particularly well prepared. The interview and his subsequent victory did prompt me to follow his career a little more closely in the years that followed. I doubt he remembers it at all.

At times McCain has impressed me, such as when he strenuously opposed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that Bill Clinton signed into law. Lately he has been less impressive with his efforts to kiss up to the conservatives that he thinks he needs to win the presidency. I think it’s a political error, frankly. McCain’s greatest appeal has always been to the middle, and he is now doing much to sacrifice that appeal–how much will become clear after the Democrats choose a nominee and the general election battle begins in earnest.

On the other hand, perhaps McCain realizes that his appeal for moderates has largely been undeserved, since he has almost always acted more conservative than he sounded. Maybe he suspects that coverage of a general election campaign might paint a more accurate picture of the real McCain, costing him moderates, anyway. If so, he has more faith in mainstream media political coverage than I do.

Posted in Journalism, Personal, Politics | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »