Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2008

LET'S TALK ABOUT MEDIA 'BOYCOTTS'.... By now, I suspect most people have seen the breathtaking interview between Joe Biden and Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, in which, by any reasonable standard, West's questions fell somewhere between "ridiculous" and "in need of medication."

Soon after, the Obama campaign realized there wasn't much point in talking to Barbara West. She's not really a journalist, the campaign wouldn't be treated professionally, and there's no real point in having a dialog.

In response, John McCain is now whining to Fox News' Sean Hannity about the Obama campaign's media "boycotts." McCain said, "[I]f anybody in the media, much less Joe the Plumber asks a tough question, then they're boycotted. They pull their ads, etc."

I sincerely wonder about McCain's grip on reality sometimes. Amanda Terkel noted the irony of McCain's latest complaints.

* McCain canceled an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live after CNN's Campbell Brown conducted a tough interview with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds about Palin's foreign policy experience.

* Last month, the McCain campaign barred New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd from flying on both the McCain and Palin press planes after she wrote a negative column.

* McCain campaign officials barred Time's Joe Klein from traveling with them, after he asked McCain an uncomfortable question about foreign policy.

* Campaign officials have repeatedly gone on air to bash journalists after tough interviews, saying that Katie Couric asked Palin "a series of trapdoor questions," the New York Times "cast aside it's journalistic integrity to advocate for the defeat of John McCain," and demanded that the media treat Palin with "deference."

I'd just add one other important note -- McCain's whining came during an interview with Sean Hannity. Did McCain not appreciate the irony? McCain was groaning about Obama avoiding "tough questions" from professional journalists, while McCain palling around with a right-wing clown who got the interview because McCain knows there won't be any "tough questions."

Has there ever been a more inane presidential campaign?

Steve Benen 4:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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In the unlikely event that McCain wins, this is exactly what will depress me the most. Every time he opens his mouth he insults the intelligence of anyone who can think their way out of a paper bag. So if he were to win, at a minimum we'd have to conclude that a majority of people don't mind having their intelligence insulted. Makes me want to heave.

Posted by: Maggie on October 29, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: troglodyte on October 29, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I would say diseased. The McCain/Palin campaign should show up in textbooks and dictionaries under the definition of "projection".

Posted by: anon on October 29, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

More like insane. John's mental health is a serious cause for concern. I'm sure tough guy Hannity will bring it up when next they chat.

Posted by: Dr. Fraud on October 29, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

So, is Sarah Palin actually talking to the press now or what? Or does boycotting the media entirely not count?

Posted by: slag on October 29, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to remember when Pat Paulson ran for laughs but now that I think about it, Palson's tongue-in-cheek campaign was run far better than McAce's head-up-his-ass attempt at one...

Posted by: stevio on October 29, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I said this in a recent open thread:

I'm not one to have much faith in Biden's speaking ability, and I criticized him for his "generated crisis" comment. So when I heard about this interview, I fully expected to see Biden gaffe it up.

However, that's not what happened.

The interviewer's questions were worded in a very clearly slanted manner, and Biden called her on it. Then he answered them in a completely reasonable manner.

Biden came off looking just fine. The interviewer looked like a joke.

Posted by: TG Chicago on October 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, Steve, you progressive bloggers must feel like you're at bat and being lobbed one underhanded softball after another from these knucklehead McCoot people. Congratulations on hitting them all out of the park.

(....In the spirit of the World Series from a Tampa Rays boy...)

Posted by: Walt on October 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

No -- not in 40 years of covering politics in the Pacific Northwest - not on the local, state or federal level. There is a lot of talk about the ex-Bushies in McCain's campaign sabotaging his candidacy. That gives the ex-Bushies more credibility than they deserve. I think the ex-Bushies don't know who to campaign any other way. Looks at their ages. They have never seen anything but this bilious campaign style in their lives. It's just pathetic. They have driven away the independent and crossover votes McCain absolutely had to have to win. Can they be sued for malpractice?

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on October 29, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

doesn't john see the hypocrisy of saying sh!t like this while HIS campaign won't let HIS vice president within ten yards of an open mic without a bodyguard???? jeez...the jokes write themselves....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on October 29, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The interviewer looked like a joke.

One of the things that really amazes me is how past caring these loons are about how they come across. It used to be that people stopped calling Democrats commie-pinko Marxists because they'd just be laughed at. The more desperate they get, the less they care how ridiculous they look.

They're going all-in with their credibility, and they apparently don't care at all how completely stupid that is.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 29, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Remember who the target audience is for this nonsensical blather. People who watch FauxNews and Hannity are not reading NYTimes, don't know who MoDo is, think Campbell Brown is a soup.

Posted by: CParis on October 29, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not one to have much faith in Biden's speaking ability - TG Chicago

It seems to me that most of Biden's gaffes are parts of longer sentences, where the media cuts them off just before the word "but". Ex. John McCain is a hero, Obama will be tested. In this Orlando interview, however, I was hoping he would ask whether Ali G or Steven Colbert was hiding behind a curtain somewhere.

Posted by: Danp on October 29, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Has there ever been a more inane presidential campaign?

Steve, I think I'm sensing some desperation in your closing comments on these posts. Coming up with new ways to express how very fucked up the McCain campaign has become must be one hell of a burden. Especially since each instance of bullshit way outdoes the one before.

What's remarkable to me is that, as the chasm Palin/McCain continues to dig for itself goes deeper and deeper, those ass-faced sub-cretins at their rallies just cheer all the more. If Palin were to lance a dog's boil on stage they would hail it as evidence of her economic expertise and patriotism. If McCain were to lie down and just begin muttering childish obscenities [like I do] there would be delirious pandemonium.

And here stand the rest of us, now virtually speechless in bewildered awe at the absurdity of the Palin/McCain Klan-rallies/Christian orgies. And you, dear blogger, must somehow put words to that which, for some time now, cannot be possibly be described.

My hat is off. And I am saluting you.

Posted by: chrenson on October 29, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK


And don't forget, that think Palin is, and I quote, a "breath of fresh air". Because sneering, vicious condescension, blatant, uninformed cluelessness, and shameless pathological lying are all new and much needed improvements to American politics.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's descent into wingnut hysteria is funny. And telling, too, since it's all his campaign has left. I wonder if David Broder is noticing...

Posted by: walt on October 29, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

I keep coming back to a comment that Mudcat Saunders (honestly, does he not have the awesomest southern accent of all time?) made on Maddow's show last week or so. He was talking about the Robocalls and said that you can bring the mean all you want in a campaign, but eventually you gotta come back to the nice (i.e. let people know why they should vote FOR you, and not just AGAINST the other guy).

The thing is, McCain is rapidly running out of time to leave a positive impression. He essentially has tomorrow (which will probably be dominated with talk of Obama's Infomercial) and Friday. The weekend is a write off (as far as getting any media traction) and Monday will be Polls Polls Polls and a healthy dose of intra-party finger pointing.

In other words, he's toast and he knows it.

Posted by: neilt on October 29, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Remember who the target audience is for this nonsensical blather. People who watch FauxNews and Hannity are not reading NYTimes, don't know who MoDo is, think Campbell Brown is a soup.

Yeah... "Good-Lookin' Tomato"

Posted by: skrunch95 on October 29, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

It just does not change for these Republicans. Realize what your opponent could describe you as and then call him that under the flimsiest of circumstances. Do you idiot Republicans ever once think that this is more than an election. This justifies everything the rest of the world ever suspected about Bush and yourselves. There is no way anyone would believe you would lie and decieve this much over ideological differences. It is just for the money you greedy bastards.

Posted by: SteveA on October 29, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

This will matter when what passes for journalists in our main stream media take notice.

Posted by: Eric on October 29, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of inane interviews, David Shuster just interviewed a 'Psychologist' about 20 minutes ago to help analyze why there is so much hatred and tension and scapegoating presently.

As if we don't know!!! Apparently, he doesn't know--he gave a very short-sighted response which sounded quite presumptive and Shuster did not question the assertions and loaded conclusions.

The so called professional was awful--he mentioned race as one factor (check) but then added that folks are worried the wall-street bail-out is socialism...(hmm..sort of, but that's not what I'm reading, really--it's that Socialism is being ascribed to Obama and folks fear the loaded word).

It gets worse: What Mr. Psychologist (of color, no less)left out and what he added however was even worse:

He left out that folks are in the worst economic dire straits they've been in for years. Gee, you think that might add to the hatred and tension?
History tells us this is number ONE contributor on the list.

Finally, when Mr. Shrink concluded, he indicated that blacks are getting "VERY PARANOID" that their vote will be blocked, and so if the Dems do indeed lose, we will have to look for that and deal with this potential (apparently un-warranted and unfounded) up-roar. There was NO indication that indeed history does undermine and cage minority voters!

This was not just a throwaway interview, it was a a very dangerous interview in my view. Just being a psychologist it seems is enough to make all kinds of distorted, short-sighted lies and assumptions sound believable and credible.

So if the Dems lose and blacks get upset, it's just because they are VERY paranoid.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 29, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

The worst part is this: Why the hell is this race even close?

WTF is wrong with America???

Why is the most inane presidential campaign ever less than 20 points from one of the best campaigns ever?

GOTV people!!!!!

Posted by: Racer X on October 29, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Biden HANDLED her like the rube she is. If that's what the far right considers "tough" questions, they should just go home.

Let's see Palin deal with some really toughs question from Rachel Maddow. Her head would be spinning (literally).

Posted by: bdop4 on October 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Has there ever been a more inane presidential campaign? No.

Posted by: The Heretik on October 29, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The thing is, McCain is rapidly running out of time to leave a positive impression.

True enough. Maybe McCain could produce a slide show for Friday that strong implies Obama is a close associate of G. Gordon Liddy.

It would be consistent, at least.

Posted by: Dave In Texas on October 29, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Has there ever been a more inane presidential campaign?"


Posted by: SteveIL on October 29, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

The use of the word "boycotts" is the problem. I would suggest just calling Ms. West a "wack job", and pointing out that it is difficult to give a reasonable interview to a "wack job".

Everyone understands what "wack job" means since the McCain campaign just called Gov Palin a "wack job".

Man, this stuff just writes itself lately...

Posted by: on October 29, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

It is getting on my nerves so bad. It serves absolutely no purpose because they do it like 10 times a day, like they have some sort of computer program that spits out a reaction to every Obama action.

The difference between rove and his protégées is Rove picked one thing and ran with it over and over, they are running with everything. "Obama the America hating negro ties his shoe strings backwards, he is not one of us."

That being said, all I can say is thank fucken god. If these guys would have ran anything even remotely sensible, we would be getting creamed.

Posted by: ScottW on October 29, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

As my granny use to say, "There are no bad questions, only stupid answers!" It was great to see someone who could shut down Biden's motor mouth! As for keeping Dowd and Klein off their planes--it cuts down on fumigation bills.

Posted by: DF on October 29, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

What did your granny say about stupid statements, DF?

Posted by: Dave In Texas on October 29, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Has there ever been a more inane presidential campaign?"

SteveIL says: Obama's.

Benen documents the inanity of McCain multiple times per day here so if you don't mind, please explain how Obama's campaign is "inane" with examples please. No, you not liking him is not an answer. Thanks in advance, I'll await your response.

Posted by: ckelly on October 29, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Inane McCain" has an interesting ring. As a chant or mantra it morphs into 'It ain't McCain". Next Wednesday is Inane McCain Day.

Posted by: slanted tom on October 29, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Biden was really effective in his responses to West, except I wished that he had said,"Listen, Obama is not a socialist or a marxist! What an ignorant thing to think!!"

Posted by: PTate in Mn on October 29, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

He can't remember from one moment to the next what he's said. We shouldn't expect him to remember what he's said days before. The dementia is obvious to those of us who spend any time with people with the ailment. One of the clues is when he's reading off the teleprompter. He looks lost till he repeats a tough passage with no mistakes. The look on his face is as if he won the lottery. Just like St Ronnie during the waning days of his administration. The look is the same, that of a man who is losing his sense of himself.

Posted by: namvetted on October 30, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

I think Biden should have asked her if she had stopped beating her husband. The utterly corrupt frames for the question should have gotten the "journalist" fired. I am getting tired of the false equivalence, be it from Campbell Brown or Larry King too. After Obama spends real money on presenting his policies, Larry King gives McCain free airtime to whine. Anderson Cooper then launched into the very "serious" issue of the going away party in 1990. And how liberal bloggers--you Steve and Hilzoy--tried to "paint" McCain as also a distant supporter of the PLO. The media has to be taken apart and reassembled--delinked from outside corporate interests. Non-profit media is the way to go. I am sure it would never happen, but we must boycott idiots with an agenda at least.

Posted by: Sparko on October 30, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

I say good for Biden - finally someone spoke the truth to these so called "journalists". her question was way off base, out of line and totally wacked. Biden responded beautifully and the network should have fired her on the spot. This is not a game we are playing here this is our futures, our kids futures and by sliding down this road farther we endanger everyone.

Get with it and have some respect for the process, the people and get out of the gutter.

Posted by: wom46 on October 30, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

There have been campaigns at least equally inane. The 2000 election saw our redoubtable mainstream media pursue a war against Al Gore, the likes of which has never been seen. Somehow, the arrogant and overprivileged Bush became a guy you'd like to have a beer with, while Al Gore was portrayed as a boring, lying pedant. Surely everyone remembers how John Kerry looked "French." The current election is actually being covered in a more substantive manner than the previous two.

Posted by: Ed Szewczyk on October 30, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK



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