21 February 2008

NYT Hatchet Job On McCain Is Old News

Okay, first off: As I have written in this journal before, I am not a huge John McCain fan. I do not comment on this timely news as a means to trash him. To the contrary, what "The Grey Lady" has attempted to do with this morning's Page 1 story in dredging up innuendos from 2000, and regurgitating the "Keating 5" issue, long since passed out of history, is at a minimum, senational. It doesn't necessarily rise to being irresponsible, yet.

Journalists are gossiping about the crack in Mr. McCain's heretofore believed to be uncrackable armor. This is the man much of the establishment media wanted to be the GOP candidate in 2000, rather than George W. Bush. Rumor is also rampant that the reason the New York Times ran what pretty much everyone agrees is a story very thin on facts and news (remember what I preach -- if it isn't NEW, it isn't NEWS), is because The New Republic was going to run a piece on the infighting going on at the Times.

Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, to his credit, felt the story his reporters had was thin. He knows first hand the declining circulation of this once great newspaper, due both to younger readers switching to new media, but even more so -- the tarnished reputation the paper had acquired because of years of hypocritical editorial opinions and endorsements of political candidates and policies that often were at odds with much of the American electorate. The Times, while a New York newspaper, likes to think of itself as a newspaper of record of the American people. It is not.

To be true, McCain -- never very friendly to every American's 2A birthright -- hasn't done himself any favors. His moderate views on some issues aside, he has held himself out to be above reproach for years. Actually, in a politician that is a good thing. But it does smack somewhat of hypocrisy, as The American Spectator contends, when McCain hops a flight with a campaign contributor. The senator's position being it ought to be obvious that he's maintaining his integrity, no matter whose plane he is using. The appearance of hypocrisy comes when this same senator, citing his ethics, rams through legislation prohibiting organizations such as the National Rifle Association and American Civil Liberties Union from purchasing ad time in the days in the days before an election because somehow that manipulates the people and hurts democracy. As TAS asks, "Why is it that associations comprised of every day citizens are suspect, but a powerful politician is not?"

This is not to suggest that Mr. McCain is suspect, though I have at times wondered. This morning, the man held a news conference up in Toledo (interesting place: home of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, the municipal chief executive who threw up road blocks a couple weeks ago to keep the Marines out) to defend his name. Last night, Team McCain issued statements hitting back hard, questioning why the paper would want to lower its journalistic standards. Sadly, the standards have been in decline for more than a decade. This just made things worse. Mr. Keller actually acted as a voice of reason in telling his writers that they needed more proof of wrongdoing. In this story, I can see none yet, though as mentioned above, the content is designed to make one wonder of double standards.

The push to publish is reminiscent of the once credible CBS News, which under the helm of Managing Editor and chief anchor Dan Rather ran a story on Bush filled with innuendo about his service in the Texas Air National Guard. Rather ended up "retiring" in disgrace after pushing a story, or letting his producer push a story she had been working on for more than four years. His tortured defense of her actions was (I am paraphrasing here) that "the story must be true, otherwise she wouldn't have been working on it for four years." She was fired, and he essentially was told not to let the door hit him on the way out.

In today's story, what is even more interesting, and I'm not blazing new trails here, is that the MSM, which has been in love with Sen. McCain for more than a decade, seemingly can't wait to tear him down now that he is the presumptive republican nominee for president in this year's election. For he no longer is talking about his fellow GOP contenders, but in fact has now turned his sights to Sens. Clinton and Obama, and how he believes they represent the wrong path for America in the coming years.

The Times does not represent the American will. It represent an out-of-date thinking and elitism bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Hudson River on the west (well, maybe with part of New Jersey thrown in).

It is a disappointing to see the once great "Gray Lady" under fire once again. But it is deserved.

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