'Nightly News' Jabs McCain's Tech-Savvy

     Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, Ariz., has acknowledged his technological shortcomings, but some in the media continue to portray him as a techno-phobe with no meaningful contributions to that sector of the economy.


     The September 16 “NBC Nightly News” examined McCain’s rhetoric on the campaign trail in the wake of a serious banking crisis.  Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell reported one campaign advisor cited McCain’s legislative effort opening the door to technological advancements as evidence of his ability to steer Americans through the turbulent time.


     “And Brian, when an adviser today was stressing John McCain’s economic credentials, he told reporters that McCain quote ‘helped make this little miracle happen’ – the Blackberry or cell phone – citing his work on the Commerce committee,” O’Donnell said.


     But rather than explore McCain’s work on the Commerce committee and any influence he may have had over technological innovations, O’Donnell dismissed the adviser’s claim as a mistake.


     “Well, McCain heard about it, he laughed,” O’Donnell added. “Another advisor said, ‘McCain’s not claiming to have invented anything’ and said, ‘That was a boneheaded comment.’” The claim raised comparisons to the assertion former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore made that he had contributed to the creation of the Internet.


     O’Donnell’s report came eerily close to mimicking an anti-McCain ad bashing approved by Barack Obama.


     “He admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, still doesn't understand the economy and favors $200 billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class,” the TV ad said.


     But O’Donnell ignored points that conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg made in his column for the Los Angeles Times September 16. The attack that McCain is out of touch for not using e-mail ignores the fact that North Vietnamese broke his fingers and shattered both of his arms, making his use of a computer to send e-mail “painfully laborious,” Goldberg wrote.


     But otherwise, the media had been complimentary as it pertained to McCain’s tech savvy, prior to his 2008 presidential bid.


     “In 2000, Forbes magazine called him the ‘Senate’s savviest technologist,’” Goldberg wrote. “That same year, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg gushed that McCain was the most ‘cybersavvy’ of all the presidential candidates that year, a crop that included none other than Al Gore. Being chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Weisberg explained, ‘forced him to learn about the Internet early on, and young Web entrepreneurs such as Jerry Yang and Jeff Bezos fascinate him.’”