John McCain and the Media
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
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We live in a gotcha media culture that revels in exposing the foibles and hypocrisies of our politicians. But one politician manages to escape this treatment, getting the benefit of the doubt and a positive spin for nearly everything he does: John McCain. Indeed, even during his temporary decline in popularity in 2007, the media continued to support him by lamenting his fate rather than criticizing the flip flops and politicking that undermined his popular image as a maverick.
David Brock and Paul Waldman show how the media has enabled McCain's rise from the Keating Five scandal to the underdog hero of the 2000 primaries to his roller-coaster run for the 2008 nomination. They illuminate how the press falls for McCain's “straight talk” and how the Arizona senator gets away with inconsistencies and misrepresentations for which the media skewers other politicians. This is a fascinating study of how the media shape the political debate, and an essential book for every political junkie.
David Brock is the author of four political books, including The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy. In his preceding book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, a 2002 New York Times bestselling political memoir, he chronicled his years as a conservative media insider.
Paul Waldman is the author or coauthor of three books on politics and media, including The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World. His last book was Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success. He is also a columnist for The American Prospect.
“The press loves McCain. We're his base.”
—Chris Matthews, MSNBC
“John McCain is clearly the Washington media's favorite Republican.” —Brit Hume, Fox News
“The media, of course, loves John McCain because it seems like he's back to the old John McCain.” —David Shuster, MSNBC
“I think every last one of them [reporters] would move to Massachusetts and marry John McCain if they could.”
—Joe Scarborough, MSNBC