Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why The Press Loves McCain

There are many reasons to speculate on why the national press loves John McCain so much. He talks to them on his bus as if he were their friend, he invites them to barbecues, he uses self-deprecating humor and to top it off, he has the record of being a war hero. All of that and then some come together to shape what Neal Gabler calls the first postmodernist candidate. He is able to go into the hearts of what we know as journalists today and exploits them for all they're worth.

From The NY Times:

Seeming to view himself and the whole political process with a mix of amusement and bemusement, Mr. McCain is an ironist wooing a group of individuals who regard ironic detachment more highly than sincerity or seriousness. He may be the first real postmodernist candidate for the presidency — the first to turn his press relations into the basis of his candidacy.

Of course this is not how the press typically talks about Mr. McCain. The conventional analysis of his press popularity begins with his military service. If campaigns are primarily about narratives, he has a good and distinguished one, and it would take a very curmudgeonly press corps to dismiss it, even though that is exactly what a good portion of it did to Senator John Kerry’s service record in 2004. Reporters also often cite Mr. McCain’s bonhomie as the reason for their affection. As Ryan Lizza described it last month in The New Yorker, a typical campaign day has Mr. McCain rumbling from one stop to another on his bus, the Straight Talk Express, sitting in the rear on a horseshoe-shaped leather couch surrounded by reporters and talking “until the room is filled with the awkward silence of journalists with no more questions.”

The Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, citing the conviviality during the 2000 campaign, wrote that “a trip on his bus is, well, a trip.” And as the party master, Mr. McCain is no longer the reporters’ subject. He is their pal.

Gabler goes on into the intricacies of how McCain works his magic and how the press gleefully responds in the way the "maverick" desires. The press is almost like a pack of dogs being guided by a skilled trainer who knows all the tricks. Here on the left we scream and shout at the press to wake up and become independent of the campaigns and report fairly and accurately, but as Chris "Tweety" Matthews joyfully exclaims, 'they're his base.'

What needs to happen is a constant barrage of truth from the progressive media and blogosphere, coupled with the Democratic campaigns/nominee's steady stream of attacks on McCain. Obama is doing quite well with this so far and tries to stay away from the "wonkiness" that the press hates all the while coming back to the base to talk about concrete programs that will help our nation come back from the disaster that is the Bush Presidency. It is a fine line that Obama (and Clinton) must walk in order to appease the current system of how the media (doesn't) works for the sake of ratings and not to inform average Americans.