One pretty good sign that the media treats John McCain much more favorably than the McCain campaign would have you believe is the obedience with which the media uncritically reports the campaign's complaints about coverage.
Case in point: Politico's Jonathan Martin has an article about McCain's attacks on the media, in which he includes this line:
McCain's campaign has also put its words into action, stripping CNN of an opportunity to interview the candidate after what it felt was unfair treatment of an aide in an appearance Monday on the cable channel.
Why does the McCain campaign think the treatment was "unfair"? Martin doesn't tell you. What happened? Martin doesn't tell you. Was it unfair? Martin makes no effort to help readers determine that -- he just "reports" that McCain's camp says it was unfair. Kind of skews things in McCain's favor, doesn't it?
What actually happened in that interview is that McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds touted Sarah Palin's experience as head of the Alaska National Guard, at which point CNN's Campbell Brown asked him for an example of a decision Palin made in that capacity. When Bounds couldn't or wouldn't come up with one, she asked again. That doesn't seem "unfair" to me; that seems like journalism.
And the Politico's decision to simply type up the McCain campaign's complaints without giving any indication of what actually happened seems more like stenography than journalism.
Print media outlets reported Sen. Joe Lieberman's attack on Sen. Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention, including Lieberman's deceptive claim that Obama "vot[ed] to cut off funding for our troops on the ground," but did not report that the attack violated a pledge Lieberman had made not to "spend [his] time attacking Barack Obama" at the convention.
NBC's Ron Allen just interviewed a GOP delegate who garbled her false pro-Palin talking points. Fortunately, Allen was there to help her through:
Delegate: "Her entire career has been in administrative duty, and-"
Ron Allen: "A lot of people talk about executive experience"
Delegate: "Executive experience. And she's had a lot of experience."
Palin's entire career has not been in "administrative duty," whatever that means. Nor has it been in "executive" capacity. But rather than challenging the delegate on her false spin, Allen coached her into more-coherent false spin. Ah, journalism.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris asserted that while Democrats say "things are terrible, Bush is awful, and McCain is more of same," "[t]hat statistic that 90 percent of the time they vote together? Ninety percent of the votes in the Senate are unanimous. Bush, Obama, and McCain probably vote together 90 percent of the time on resolutions congratulating the New York Giants and stuff." In fact, Congressional Quarterly has reported that Sen. John McCain has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time, while Sen. Barack Obama has voted with Bush 40 percent of the time.
Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer did not challenge an assertion by McCain campaign senior adviser Nicolle Wallace that the "fervor with which the Democratic-leaning blogs and a few in the mainstream media pursued" questions about Gov. Sarah Palin's pregnancy " forced the Palin family ... maybe ahead of a schedule that worked best for the family, to make this news yesterday about their daughter." But contrary to Wallace's claim, according to The New York Times, the McCain campaign released the information about Palin's daughter's pregnancy on Labor Day because that was when the media were focused on Hurricane Gustav and because "the nation was busy with family and social activities."
On Special Report, Major Garrett stated that "Barack Obama made the decision not to attack [Sen. John] McCain and [President] Bush" and later claimed, "[J]ust a few hours ago in his hometown of Scranton, surrounded by friends and family, [Sen. Joe] Biden ripped into John McCain on energy, Iran, and Iraq, calling him wrong on all three. And the Republicans said that's a hard way for them to see how politics is being avoided in the light of Hurricane Gustav." But neither Garrett nor Brit Hume noted that McCain ran attack ads that day or that a campaign spokesman reportedly attacked Obama.
In his New York Times column, Bill Kristol asserted that many of the Republicans who are "unhappy about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin" as his vice-presidential running mate are "insiders who highly value -- who overly value -- 'experience.' " However, when he was making the case that Sen. Joe Lieberman could be McCain's best choice for running mate in a column one week earlier, Kristol cited the fact that "Palin has been governor for less than two years" as a possible reason for McCain not to pick her.
The Washington Post asserted in an editorial, "As opponents reversed long-held positions to appeal in ugly ways to anti-immigrant sentiment, Mr. McCain insisted on his more humane approach." But the Post did not point out that McCain reversed himself on a key component of immigration reform, now saying that "we've got to secure the borders first," or that McCain said he would not support the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
Syndicated columnist Debra Saunders and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck both falsely claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She has also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples.
Nervous GOP convention watchers must love to see articles that begin like this:
"Republican officials say their radically curtailed convention offers a big political opportunity for the party to redeem itself on the competence issue - and for John McCain to step out of President Bush's shadow once and for all."
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace did not ask Sen. John McCain about the current ethics investigation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, despite McCain's statement that Palin is "a reformer" and that his selection of her as his vice-presidential running mate "brings a spirit of reform and change that is vital now in our nation's capital."
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain said that regarding the "bridge to nowhere" project, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "stood up and said, 'We don't need it. And if we need it, we'll pay for it ourselves.' " Chris Wallace did not note in response that during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Palin reportedly supported the proposal to build a bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding for the project.
Actually the sub-head to the Post's Palin article today:
"Fellow Maverick Survived McCain's Thorough Vetting Process, Aides Say"
Our only question is, did the aides say she survived the vetting process and call her a maverick? Or did the maverick part come courtesy of Post editors. Honestly, it's hard to tell where one team ends and the other begins.
National Review Online's Greg Pollowitz falsely claimed that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visited troops in Kuwait "a year before Senator [Barack] Obama felt the need to go." In fact, Obama first visited troops in Kuwait in January 2006, a year and a half before Palin's visit.
New York Times columnist David Brooks asserted of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "She's evangelical, but she's pretty progressive on gay and lesbian issues. She's for drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], but she talks about global warming quite a lot." But Palin has reportedly said of global warming, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made," a position at odds with findings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; she has also reportedly opposed giving spousal benefits to same-sex partners of public employees.