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The Collective
Sunday, September 7, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Jake Tapper at ABC’s Political Punch, blogs the comments of McCain campaign manager Rick Davis on Fox News Sunday that I noted in a comment this morning:

So when will she subject herself to questions?

“When we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it,” Davis said, praising a Fox News Channel profile of Palin that ran last night.

Why is she scared of answering questions? Wallace asked.

“She’s not scared to answer questions,” Davis said, “but you know what? We run our campaign not the news media.”

Wallace said inappropriate intrusions into Palin’s family and personal life aside, there are legitimate questions about whether she is prepared to be vice president.

“Sarah Palin will have the opportinity (sic) to speak to the American people,” Davis said. “She will do interviews, but she’ll do them on the terms and conditions” the campaign decides.

I think this plays well with the base, who like the lashing out at the media. However, I maintain that the campaign directly stating that she will do interviews when she is “comfortable” undermines the argument that she is ready to be VP. If she isn’t ready to face the press on day one of the campaign, she is not ready to be president on day one.

Palin’s most quoted line from the convention speech was the one that likened a hockey mom to a pit bull, just with lipstick. Hiding from the press until certain “terms and conditions” can be established is not what one expects from a pit bull.

Palin may yet come out and wow us all and she may yet deftly answer all the questions directed at her. However, at this point, all we can do is guess.

And, to those who find the Politico distasteful, these are the words of the McCain campaign itself. I saw Davis say these words myself, and I would post the FNS transcript, but it hasn’t been posted yet.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, MSM, US Politics | |

5 Comments

  1. I again have to say that this is hardly shocking. The breakdown in trust between the newsmedia and conservative politicians has been a train wreck that has been in process for years and gets worse every day. It represents a terrible threat to our democracy.

    The harsh tone taken against critics of the media (lashing out at the media) is unfair. If we can lash out at public figures, why can’t we lash out at the media? Is the media above criticism? It’s reasonable to question our candidates and our government, but when we question the media it’s called “lashing out?”

    I feel like I have legitimate, unanswered questions about why a majority of Americans perceive a bias in the main stream media. I feel like it’s reasonable to ask why that is, and to think that trust is a two way street.

    Comment by Captain D — Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  2. Part of my problem with the whole discussion is the conflation of all reporters and media outlets into “The Media”-I have little doubt that there are specific reporters who are biased, but this notion that one can lump it all together is problematic empirically.

    One had a case in the 1970s and even in the 1980s when the main conduit for news was the 3 broadcast networks nightly news programs.

    I would note, btw, the both parties cry press bias, and they usually do it when they are in the weaker position vis-a-vis their opponents.

    I would note that the Liberal Media were quite pro-Iraq War at the onset and in the early goings. If they are hardcore anti-GOP, how do you explain that?

    And no, the media are hardly above criticism, but one needs to be more specific than just The Media.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  3. Right. When something happens to President McCain (G-d forbid, doubly!), will she be sworn in to the presidency when she is “comfortable.”

    And on those “inappropriate intrusions into Palin’s family and personal life” (quoting Wallace, from above), who was it who decided that virtually every image of a Palin at the convention would show the VP candidate or a family member holding sad little Trig? Not the media. Who was it who decided that Levi should be seen always holding Bristol’s hand? Not the media. In other words, what’s inappropriate? As a candidate, if you use your (somewhat extended) family as props, you get asked questions.

    Comment by MSS — Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  4. Sure, but it would be quite a separate post and quite a lenghty discussion to get into the relative merits of different news organizations. To be fair to said new organizations, there is also the problem of what metric we are going to use to determine bias; what constitutes that, how do you measure it in some quantifiable way? The whole notion of media bias is something that is hard to carry into the Temple of Empirical Evidence, if for no other reason (and there are other reasons) than the news outlets are all different from each other.

    My problem - and I think it’s a problem for everyone - is that more than 80% of the population (give or take, depending on who is polling) think that “The Media” in aggregate have a strong bias one way or the other. It is by far a larger portion that believe it’s a left-leaning bias, although to me the direction is not important; the presence of the belief on a large scale is. Maybe people can’t empirically back it up, but if it’s believed on a large scale what is it going to translate into in terms of the behavior of politicians?

    What that translates into in terms of the behavior of politicians and aspiring politicians is that they can ignore this outlet or that outlet and feel safe in that decision because they know most of America doesn’t trust “The Media” anyway.

    I find this problematic to our democracy, and I still maintain that the problem is more complicated than just “the government” or “the candidates” being obstinate. It’s not as if we haven’t seen some very egregious abuses of media power in recent history. Again - so many people believing in a bias, I have to think there is a reason, rational or not, for that to be. It didn’t happen by itself. It didn’t happen because of one incident, one news agency, or one stubborn candidate or politician. It happened over a period of time as offenses mounted on both sides.

    Remember the now infamous forged air national guard memos, the ones that Dan Rather took on the air during the 2004 race? We can look back at that and say it was just poor journalism to not investigate the things before airing them. Either way - whether they knew they were fake and ran with it anyway, or just didn’t do a lick of research - it’s equally damning and damaging to the trust. Sloppy journalism is as dangerous as biased journalism. What is alarming to me about the media, is that someone could just plain make something up, fax it anonymously to CBS, and if it’s sensational enough, it will end up coming out of an anchor’s mouth on 60 minutes.

    In the case of those crazy memos, we had the bloggers to do the detective work and figure it all out for us, and ultimately it didn’t matter. But what happens if something like that is aired 24 or 36 hours before an election, and there isn’t time for us to debunk it?

    I find it quite alarming that Joe Blow off the street could influence heavily the outcome of an election by making something up and faxing it to CBS. Such a thing happening can hardly be said to be outside of the realm of possibility.

    That reality terrifies me. Irresponsibile reporting (whether deliberately biased or just sloppy work) will destroy this country before anything else does.

    Comment by Captain D — Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

  5. I will say this: media bias today is nothing compared to what it was like at the start of the republic.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

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