McCain campaign hired “Jew-counter” Fred Malek - will Politico cite “McCain's Jewish problem”?

On April 3, Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) 2008 presidential campaign announced that it had hired former Nixon staffer Fred Malek as its national finance co-chairman. However, as David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, noted in an April 3 entry on his Capital Games weblog, the McCain campaign's press release “left out an interesting piece of Malek's history: when he counted Jews for President Richard Nixon.” As Corn reported, Nixon suspected that a “cabal” of Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics was skewing economic figures to make the administration look bad and assigned Malek to report back on how many Jews were employed at BLS. When former President George H.W. Bush hired Malek as a top official at the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 1988, revelations in the press regarding Malek's work for Nixon reportedly led him to resign. McCain's hiring of Malek would seem to warrant the same disclosures from the media, but so far, only one news outlet other than The Nation has reported it.

Moreover, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert documented, Politico senior writer Ben Smith “lean[ed] on lots of innuendo” in a March 13 weblog post in order to report that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has a “Jewish Problem,” but failed to provide evidence substantiating that claim. Now that McCain has hired Malek, who allegedly aided President Nixon's attempts to expose the so-called “Jewish cabal” in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will the Politico investigate “McCain's Jewish Problem”?

Thus far, The Politico has yet to even note the addition of Malek to the McCain campaign: Chief political correspondent Mike Allen's April 4 article on McCain's “Retool[ed] Money Team” made no mention of Malek, and Malek has not been mentioned on Smith's blog, nor on the blog of Politico senior political writer Jonathan Martin, who purports to focus on the Republican 2008 presidential candidates.

Aside from The Nation, the only other media outlet to note Malek's hiring was the April 3 edition of the National Journal's The Hotline, which reported simply that “businessman Fred Malek will also support McCain and serve as a nat'l finance co-chair.” Corn's blog entry was also excerpted in an April 3 entry to TPM Café's Election Central weblog.

According to Corn's blog entry, titled "John McCain and the Jew-Counter":

Two years ago -- when Malek was leading an investment group seeking to buy the new Washington Nationals baseball team, my friend Tim Noah at Slate reviewed Malek's dark past. Here's what he wrote:

It's one of the more gothic stories about Nixon related in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's The Final Days. As they tell it, late in 1971 -- the same year, coincidentally, that the Washington Senators moved to Texas and changed their name to the Rangers -- Nixon summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a “Jewish cabal” in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “cabal,” Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau's methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.

In 1988, when George Bush pere installed Malek as deputy chairman for the Republican National Committee, Woodward dusted off his notes and, with the Washington Post's Walter Pincus, further revealed that two months after Malek filed a memo on the matter -- he'd counted 13 Jews, though his methodology was shaky--a couple of them were demoted. (Malek denied any role and said Nixon's notions of a “Jewish cabal” were “ridiculous” and “nonsense.”) The 1988 story raised a predictable ruckus, and Malek beat a hasty retreat from the RNC.

Corn also noted: “As a Nixon aide, he [Malek] set up a project that sought to influence government decisions to assist Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. In 2006, Washington Post columnist Colbert King described this program as 'a scheme designed, organized and implemented ... to politicize the federal government in support of Nixon's reelection.' "

As Media Matters documented, the media have largely ignored the controversial backgrounds of several McCain campaign staffers, such as campaign manager Terry Nelson, who approved an attack ad against former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) that was criticized as racist, and was implicated in the criminal investigation into former Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) alleged illegal laundering of campaign contributions. The media have also largely ignored the controversy surrounding blogger and political consultant Patrick Hynes, who was hired by the McCain campaign in May 2006. Hynes subsequently posted several blog entries touting McCain as a candidate and bashing McCain's rivals without disclosing his relationship to the campaign. Similarly, the media have turned a blind eye to accusations surrounding Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's New Hampshire communications director. While serving as communications director for New Jersey state Sen. Thomas Kean Jr.'s (R) failed 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, Hazelbaker allegedly posed as a Democrat in order to anonymously attack Kean's opponent, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), on liberal blogs.