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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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What McCain might say to news media: “Who do you think you’re foolin’? Love me like Barack”

Posted by James McPherson on July 21, 2008

I said a couple of days ago that the primary benefit of Barack Obama’s ongoing tour of the Middle East and Europe would be the media attention he would get. Even I have been surprised at the extent of that coverage, however, and how much easier it has been for Obama to get positive coverage than long-time media darling John McCain.

McCain, used to winning adoration from the media with semi-coherent “straight talk,” has to be shocked. Even Lou “illegal-aliens-are-out-to-kill-us-all” Dobbs paused from his nightly xenophobia for a few moments to complain about how uneven the coverage of the two candidates has become, and has a poll on his Web site asking, “Do you believe the national media is biased in favor of Sen. Barack Obama?” Of 7,879 respondents when I checked, 74 percent said yes. Obviously the poll has problems, both in the language of the question (Why not ask, “Do you believe the national media is biased in favor of Sen. Barack Obama?”), and in the fact that the only people who will see the poll likely are already mostly Dobbs fans (though it’s tough for me to believe that he has almost 8,000 fans), but Obama clearly is getting most of the attention.

All three network anchors are on the Barack-and-roll world tour, and all three networks are boasting about having “exclusive interviews” with the candidate. One wonders at the value of exclusivity when all three will likely ask the same kinds of questions–and the same questions they could ask Obama at home–but the Obama campaign is so far mostly hitting the right media notes.

Meanwhile, all McCain and his surrogates can do is to try to avoid attention-getting gaffes while taking potshots from afar and hoping something sticks. “If Barack Obama’s policy in Iraq had been implemented, he couldn’t be in Iraq today,” Joe Lieberman says. That may be true, of course. It’s definitely true that if Obama’s opposition to the war had been heeded, thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis wouldn’t have died there during the past five years.

McCain’s people have gone so far as to float the possibility that he will name his running mate this week. That would be a mistake, in my view, but it wouldn’t be the first poorly timed McCain event during this campaign. Still, I think such an announcement is unlikely.

One warning for the networks: Part of the reason the Democratic primary race may have lasted as long as it did was because many people who otherwise would not have been Hillary Clinton fans grew disgusted with how poorly the news media treated her while fawning over Obama. In coming weeks, McCain may benefit from the same kind of backlash.

4 Responses to “What McCain might say to news media: “Who do you think you’re foolin’? Love me like Barack””

  1. goodtimepolitics said

    Obama has backed himself in a corner and has to fight a great man. He is in trouble.
    Obama will lose no matter what he does. http://xrl.us/nxzjd

  2. Luis Lopez said

    Um, above poster, what exactly are you talking about. So far, Obama’s trip abroad has gone swimmingly so far. Prime Minister Maliki has already noted approval of Obama’s withdrawal plan and several other Iraqi officials have confirmed that statement. Moreover, Barack Obama is not some “wet behind the ears congressman.” He is a United States Senator.

    Also, I read your most recent blog post in which you equate MoveOn.org’s “General Betray-Us” ad and Barack Obama, and that argument holds no water whatsoever. In fact, Obama said in a speech a month ago that he did not agree with the ad. http://thehill.com/campaign-2008/obama-criticizes-moveon.org-in-patriotism-speech-2008-06-30.html

    Moreover, the picture of Obama holding the phone receiver upside down has already been debunked as a photoshop. http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/phone.asp

    And one more thing, stop using Obama’s middle name as some sort of valid critique of the person. It is a tired, hackneyed ploy that is juvenile as it is stupid.

    If you are going to criticize Obama, at least do it in a somewhat cogent and intelligent manner instead of throwing around half-truths and outright falsehoods.

  3. […] Posted in Journalism, Politics, video by James McPherson on July 22nd, 2008 A brief follow-up to yesterday’s post: Today McCain’s Web site (which he may or may not be able to access himself), has a section […]

  4. […] campaign has complained about it at length, and I’ve recently written about it myself, here and here. A recent blog report of differing amounts of coverage devoted to the two fueled claims of […]

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