View Full Version : McCain's Bias Claim: Truth or Tactic?

09-08-2008, 11:54 AM
Ever since Spiro Agnew lambasted the press in 1970 as "nattering nabobs of negativism," Republicans have reveled in attacking the national media for its so-called "liberal bias." President George H.W. Bush ran for re-election in 1992 with a bumper sticker that read "Annoy the media: Re-elect Bush." His son, the current President Bush, trotted before cameras in 2001 with a copy of Bernard Goldberg's book on the subject, "Bias," conspicuously cradled in his hand.

For most of his career, Arizona Senator John McCain would jokingly refer to reporters as "communists," but his relationship with the press was so mutually affectionate that he and his aides happily referred to the media as "our base."

Those days are over. What began as the campaign's mid-summer turn away from McCain's freewheeling give-and-take with the press has turned into an all-out war on the media.

For the past week, the campaign has written off much of the skepticism about the qualifications of vice presidential pick Sarah Palin as the reaction of a biased media establishment out of touch with real Americans.

"She's not part of the Washington D.C. cocktail circuit," Steve Schmidt, one of McCain's senior advisers, told TIME. "Elite opinion looks down with contempt at people who are not part of their world." Left unmentioned was the fact that McCain himself has been an A-List member of the Washington elite since he arrived in the capital more than 30 years ago.