Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Never underestimate

Referring to the unprecedented outburst of actual reporting about John MCain, and the way it had soured his normally fellatory relationship Last week I said:

There is the potential here for the special form of positive feedback loop known as a death spiral -- as McCain turns his legendary temper toward the press and stops being their darling, they will be less deferential, which will only further piss off McCain, and so on.
Or not.

Soon after the New York Times published an article exploring Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) unetheical relationships with lobbyists, McCain banished reporters covering his presidential bid — who have been said to be his political “base” — to the back of his campaign airplane.

But over the weekend, McCain reversed course, hosting a “thank you” cookout on Sunday for over 40 reporters from a wide variety of news outlets — including the New York Times — at his vacation home in Arizona.

McCain’s latest “charm offensive” to “woo the reporters” and appease his “constituency” may have paid off. After McCain grilled for his guests, shared his secret recipes, and provided guided tours inside and around his “rustic Arizona home,” reporters have taken the bait. McCain and the press are back together again. Some highlights from the press accounts of the McCain barbeque:

– “The idea…was to allow reporters to get to know him and his staff under less stressful circumstances. (The fact that the media spent the weekend at a resort called Enchantment probably contributed to that feeling.)

– “There is something surprising — perhaps even metaphysically provocative — about the notion of Mr. Straight Talk in such close proximity to what may be the nation’s highest proportion of crystal-wielding psychics.”

– “McCain held court the way he does almost daily aboard his ‘Straight Talk Express‘ bus.”

– “McCain comes across as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy, not terribly given to brooding or introspective meditation.”

– “As grillmaster, he looked like the all-American dad, with a story for every spot in the house.”

Some even boasted of McCain’s cooking skills:

– “McCain stood over not one, but two gas grills, cooking up ribs and chicken for his guests.”

– “So how did they taste? Objectivity prohibits a good reporter from passing judgement, but let’s put it this way: everyone wants to come back.

Never underestimate the stupidity, venality and gullibility of the mainstream press.

I think the other lesson out of this festival of prostitution has to do with the trials of Hillary Clinton. The antipathy between the Clintons and the Washington press corpse is not news. But McCain's schtick is neither a secret nor rocket science. Were she as smart as they say, she could have done the same. (I reject out of hand the objection that she failed to do so on principle -- seen this?)


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