When a writer for the New York Times questions his own paper for refusing to publish an editorial by John McCain, and a former Clinton press secretary questions the "balance" of the coverage of Obama's foreign tour, you know the media has reached a bias tilting point.
On Tuesday night's "Hardball," Times political writer John Harwood said of the Times decision to spike a McCain editorial: "I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama."
And former Bill Clinton press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, called the press coverage of Obama overseas, "extraordinary" and admitted:"It's a legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?"
Excerpts from the segment from the Tuesday night edition of "Hardball":
MATTHEWS: What do you make of it John? Is this a, is this a tempest in a teapot raised by the McCain people dumping this little factoid on Drudge and getting a lot of heat about it yesterday or is there legitimate claim that they're being stiffed by a liberal op-ed page?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC/NEW YORK TIMES: Well I think they decided rather than engage in the back and forth, that they would get the PR hit by putting it out there. Look it is standard practice for newspapers to go back and forth with authors. I've certainly been through it a million times on stuff that I've written. The question is how different is the standard when you are talking about a nominee of a major party to be President of the United States. I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama, but I understand their reasoning for it. And I think when Dee Dee talks about the tone of the note, I think one particular lightning rod for the McCain campaign to seize on is the use of the word "timetables," because John McCain, of course, has been resisting timetables and some people might interpret that or spin it that the New York Times is telling John McCain that he needs to be for a timetable and I don't think that was the intent of the editor of the page. But that provides some fodder for the McCain campaign.
MYERS: But, but, but I think that because of the extraordinary attention paid to Senator Obama's trip, right now, and he's in the midst of this extraordinary event overseas that I think the McCain campaign just saw this was one more brick in the load and they decided to put it out and make an issue of it. And it has become, I think, today and a bit yesterday an issue. It's a, it's legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?
-Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.