Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain vs. The Times

The McCain campaign went directly at the New York Times the other day. And they're not backing down.

Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization. Let us be clear about what this story alleges: The New York Times charges that McCain-Palin 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis was paid by Freddie Mac until last month, contrary to previous reporting, as well as statements by this campaign and by Mr. Davis himself.

In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis -- weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual -- since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times' reporting, Mr. Davis has never -- never -- been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand.
...
The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper's reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.

Well, obviously that's all true. But there are a couple of points worth considering.

  1. John McCain, as much as any other prominent Republican, has courted the liberal mainstream press over the years. His success in the primaries in 2000, and again this year, is at least partially due to his positive coverage, significantly more positive than any other Republican, in the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. So there is some satisfaction in seeing McCain, who has received glowing coverage when criticizing other Republicans, realizing that maybe the national media (which he has, in the past, laughingly called his "base") isn't his friend after all.

  2. As emotionally satisfying as it is to play whack-a-mole with the Times, is it productive? Honestly, is there anyone reading the times who does not realize that it is essentially a distribution mechanism for DNC memos? And the Times isn't going to change the way they do business. So what's the purpose?

    I think it's this - to put the rest of the media on notice that they cannot maintain credibility by running Times' stories without investigating themselves. The Times, rightly or wrongly (and I don't think I need to articulate which of those I believe is the case) has enormous influence with the rest of the media. If the Times runs a story on Monday morning, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX will run it Monday night. The Times is considered a valid news source. I think that the McCain campaign's trying to stop that.

    I'm skeptical that it will work, and I think that they've got more important things to do, but if they don't waste a lot of time on it, it's not a horrible idea.

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