Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Monday, March 19, 2007
Press Bribery Express
This is a tell. Michael Scherer has written a story about life with St. John McCain on the "straight talk express".
By all appearances, the national press had somehow become one with the McCain campaign. We had been with him all day, nearly a dozen scribblers from the major papers, news Web sites, networks and wire services. We reclined on the motor coach's two couches, set our papers on its tables and swiveled in its leather chairs. There were six flat-screen televisions to watch the NCAA basketball finals, free WiFi for filing stories, packs of playing cards and boxes of powdered Donettes. A framed fern print hung above the toilet. We all sank into our seats, guests of honor mingling with senior staff, munching potato chips and Butterfingers with the candidate, peppering him with questions, and waiting for him to stumble. It went on for hours, with the subjects breaking in waves: Iraq, his age, military contracting, Jack Abramoff, the Bush administration, immigration, gays in the military. Everything was on the record, and nothing was off limits. It was a reporter's dream. David Broder, the grand muck-a-muck of campaign columnists, once called the national political press "the Screening Committee." John McCain, on the other hand, calls it "my base."
For sure, his base. It looks to me like the bus tour is all about getting the press back on his side rather than any serious outreach to voters. And the press can be had for a comfy chair, internet access, wide-screen tee vees and donettes.

That's comforting.

Scherer's article is also interesting for it's look at the distinction between the old "straight-talk express" with the new version. In some ways the comparison is a story of McCain's descent into the hackery of a pandering politician. Too bad ......