Reporting on efforts to woo Clinton voters, LA Times, CNN quoted McCain flack praising Clinton -- but not his prior smears

Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm and CNN.com's Rebecca Sinderbrand quoted statements in a blog post by McCain deputy communications director Michael Goldfarb, in which Goldfarb wrote that “there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ” and that Clinton is an “impressive candidate” who “inspired a generation of women.” But neither noted that before joining the McCain campaign, in his prior capacity as online editor of The Weekly Standard, Goldfarb regularly engaged in the kind of personal smears that McCain has denounced.

In recent Web posts, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm and CNN.com's Rebecca Sinderbrand reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign is reaching out to Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters, quoting McCain deputy communications director Michael Goldfarb's statements in a blog post that “there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ” and that Clinton is an “impressive candidate” who “inspired a generation of women.” But neither writer noted that before joining the McCain campaign, Goldfarb regularly engaged in the kind of personal smears that McCain has denounced. In his prior capacity as online editor of The Weekly Standard, from which he is on leave, Goldfarb described Clinton as a “shameless panderer” who “lie[s]” “more than most” politicians, mustered “faux outrage” that came off as “pathetic whining” about her treatment from the media, and said of Clinton's “3 a.m.” ad about the economy: "[D]oes anyone think Clinton wouldn't bite off the heads of at least three staffers if her much needed beauty sleep was disturbed by a middle of the night phone call about the economy?"

Nor did either outlet mention McCain's own history of distorting Clinton's record on issues such as health care, taxes, the environment, and housing, and of making personal attacks against Clinton and her family.

Before joining the McCain campaign:

  • Goldfarb wrote in an April 21 post that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed “Rendell has always been a shameless panderer, as is the candidate he has endorsed in the Democratic primary [Clinton].” He later added that Sen. Barack “Obama is to be held to a higher standard because unlike Hillary, Obama is not a shameless panderer.”
  • Writing about Clinton's 3 a.m. ad on the economy on April 2, Goldfarb asked: "[D]oes anyone think Clinton wouldn't bite off the heads of at least three staffers if her much needed beauty sleep was disturbed by a middle of the night phone call about the economy?"
  • Goldfarb responded on March 7 to former Obama adviser Samantha Power's statement that Clinton “is a monster” by asserting: “First off, tell us something we don't know.”
  • In a February 27 post about the February 26 Democratic debate, Goldfarb wrote of Clinton's reference to a February 23 Saturday Night Live sketch: “The faux outrage she mustered over what she and [SNL host and former head writer] Tina Fey perceive as unfair treatment came off as pathetic whining."
  • On March 31, Goldfarb linked to a “must-read” column that day by Slate.com's Christopher Hitchens, which asserted that "[t]he punishment visited on Sen. Hillary Clinton for her flagrant, hysterical, repetitive, pathological lying about her visit to Bosnia should be much heavier than it has yet been and should be exacted for much more than just the lying itself. ... [S]he has rivaled, if not indeed surpassed, the disbarred and perjured hack who is her husband and tutor." Goldfarb wrote in response to Hitchens' “must-read” column: “Hitchens is outraged, and eloquently so as always -- it's definitely worth reading through. Still, I'm surprised that anyone can be surprised by the Clinton's lies anymore. Frankly, I find them rather comforting in comparison to Obama's new kind of politics, which best I can tell seems to be the same old politics in a new self-righteous package. All politicians lie, and the Clintons more than most. I can't imagine that voters haven't already internalized this reality -- which is why I tend to think the explanation for Hillary's plummeting poll numbers must lie elsewhere. [Weekly Standard contributor] Samantha [Sault] says it's the whining, which is as good an explanation as any."
  • In a March 29 post titled “On Hillary Clinton and Sandwiches,” Goldfarb wrote that the “front page story on Hillary Clinton in today's [Wall Street] Journal includes this gem: 'Heather Arnet, a Clinton supporter who runs a Pittsburgh organization that lobbies for more women on public commissions and corporate boards, recently surveyed the Internet and found more than 50 anti-Hillary Clinton sites on Facebook. One of them, entitled 'Hillary Clinton Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich,' had more than 38,000 members.' " Goldfarb wrote that “it looks to me (just clicking through a few pages) like 40 percent or more of the group is female -- it's certainly not all 'guys.' And most of the members [of the group], male and female, are probably Obama supporters. After all, Republicans want Hillary to keep running ... and make us a sandwich.”

From Malcolm's June 11 Los Angeles Times post:

And then a week ago this morning it became clear the Democratic party was forcing Clinton to end her bid. Saturday Obama went golfing. Clinton and her family dressed as if for a funeral and went to thank their supporters with a grateful speech and on paper a hearty, full endorsement of Obama.

But something was missing. Not one word in the speech about the Republican nominee that Obama must now confront for the White House.

As she was speaking, the McCain campaign's new website blog, The McCain Report, posted a special tribute to the losing Democratic candidate, familiarly headlined “Hillary Out,” something the Obama campaign didn't fully match for two days.

“Sen. Clinton has really grown on us,” McCain blogger Michael Goldfarb wrote. “She ran an impressive campaign ... an impressive candidate ... inspired a generation of women ... Sen. Clinton also didn't mention John McCain once during her speech. This came as something of a surprise over here, and a pleasant one at that. But it's clear that John McCain and Hillary Clinton respect each other -- and there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ.”

The blog post included a photo of McCain and Clinton together on a ship in the Arctic during one of their several journeys as members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. These things do not happen on official campaign websites spontaneously or by accident. Nor does the enemy get accidentally omitted from a major speech.

So The Ticket called a bunch of people who know both McCain and Clinton. It's true, they confirmed, there is a special friendship between them. And it apparently started in January of 2001, when Clinton became the first former first lady elected to public office and walked into the U.S. Senate.

It has always been a gentlemen's club, if not always populated by gentlemen. And the warmth toward Clinton was missing. Until McCain walked up and heartily welcomed the newcomer and showed her around. “They really hit it off,” said one friend.

From Sinderbrand's June 9 CNN.com story:

The numbers haven't gone unnoticed at McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. In the days since Obama effectively claimed the Democratic nomination, the senator from Arizona's campaign has aggressively reached out to Clinton supporters -- women and blue-collar voters who were the strongest supporters of her presidential bid.

A few hours after her speech -- which was free of attacks on Obama's fall opponent -- McCain aide Michael Goldfarb wrote on the campaign's official blog that “there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ. During her speech there was no small amount of pleading with the TV: 'Don't do it, you can still win!' ”

“Sen. Clinton has really grown on us over here in Crystal City over the past few months,” wrote Goldfarb, calling her an “impressive candidate” who “inspired a generation of women” but “fell victim to a vast left-wing conspiracy that resented her generally centrist foreign policy views.”

And one of the first posts on the newly launched blog was a video of Abba's “Take a Chance on Me” under the headline, “Take a Chance on McCain.” Wrote Goldfarb: “Attention disaffected Hillary supporters, John McCain is a huge Abba fan. Seriously.''

McCain's maverick reputation has always translated into significant support from independent voters, but the diminished appeal of the GOP brand this year may translate into a weaker showing. Despite emotions still raw from the bruising Democratic primary, an appeal to Clinton voters could be a tough sell for the Republican.

But McCain and his campaign have made bold moves in recent weeks to distance the senator from President Bush and the Republican Party, and redirect the focus to his independent image -- essential in his effort to reach disaffected Clinton voters.

[...]

In his election night address, McCain had taken a swipe at the press -- directly echoing continuing complaints from some of Clinton's strongest supporters that she had received unfair treatment from the press during her White House run. ” Sen. Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage," he said. “The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes receives.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- who has taken on increasingly high profile campaign roles on McCain's behalf -- announced Thursday that he was heading a new grass-roots organization, Citizens for McCain, with a direct appeal to Clinton's disappointed supporters.

[...]

In 2004, despite similar anger from supporters of unsuccessful presidential candidate Howard Dean, 8 percent of Democrats supported Bush over Sen. John Kerry.

And on most major issues, McCain's positions are completely at odds with those of the Democratic working class and women voters he's hoping to reach: in favor of the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts, against abortion rights and health care policies favored by many Democrats.

Obama advisers say they think the passion of the primary season will soon fade, and the party will unite around the senator from Illinois. But they've moved quickly to cement party unity: Last week, a thank you message -- and a plea for visitors to “show your support” for Clinton -- appeared on Obama's Web site.