McCain vs. the NYT: It's on!
John McCain's senior strategist Steve Schmidt went after the New York Times Monday afternoon. The impetus was a story that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis used to do lobbying work for Fannie Mae.
But the campaign has long taken an aggressive stance with the media in general and the Times in particular, as in a story from August 2008 in which campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb said"the paper's editors seem to have all the intelligence and reason of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of dungeons and dragons."
McCain senior strategist Steve Schmidt rebuked journalists he said had failed in their duty to submit Obama to intense scrutiny and accused news organizations of hounding McCain's running mate Sarah Palin.
"Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization," said Schmidt on a conference call with reporters.
"It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin, and excuses Senator Obama.
"This is an organization that is completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate, which is their prerogative to be, but let's not be dishonest and call it something other than what it is."
"It is an organization that has made a decision to cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition to advocate for the defeat of one candidate - in this case, John McCain."
A Politico story by Mike Allen Monday carried updated responses from the Times, and a silly response from the Obama campaign trying to argue that it too has gotten lots of tough coverage in the paper:
Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said in a statement of response: "The New York Times is committed to covering the candidates fully, fairly and aggressively. It's our job to ask hard questions, fact-check theirstatements and their advertising, examine their programs, positions,biographies and advisors. Candidates and their campaign operatives are notalways comfortable with that level of scrutiny, but it's what our readersexpect and deserve."
Bill Burton, the Obama campaign's national press secretary, called Schmidt's accusation laughable, and said the Times had published more than 40 "probing stories ...over the course of the campaign about Barack Obama, his life, his religion, his childhood, his politics, his time in the state Senate, his time in the U.S. Senate, his family, his religion, his friends, his fundraising and all other manner of associations."
Obama's press secretary Burton released a list of 42 citations of allegedly tough Times stories. Check out some of the brutal headlines, courtesy of the Obama camp:
In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice [New York Times, 1/28/07]
Charisma and a Search for Self In Obama's Hawaii Childhood [3/17/07]
After 2000 Loss, Obama Built Donor Network From Roots Up [4/3/07]
A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith [4/30/07]
In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd. [7/30/07]
Many Blacks Find Joy in Unexpected Breakthrough [6/5/08]
Obama's Organizing Years, Guiding Others and Finding Himself [7/7/08]
Obama Looks to Lessons From Chicago in His National Education Plan [9/10/08]
Wow. Hard to imagine Obama's campaign is still standing after such assaults.