Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain campaign lashes out at NY Times over lobbying story.

The New York Times have reported that Rick Davis, who heads day-to-day operations for McCain, was paid more than $30,000 a month during a five-year period when he represented a group seeking to limit government regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

McCain, of course, has made a big deal out of how he is going to change Washington. Many of us have wondered how he is going to do this whilst employing an astonishing number of lobbyists, something which this New York Times story underlines.

The reaction of the McCain team has been to go ballistic:

In response to a question from CNN reporter Dana Bash regarding the Davis story, Steve Schmidt said: "Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organisation, it is a pro-Obama advocacy organisation that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin and excuses Senator Obama.

"There is no level of public vetting with regard to Senator Obama's record, his background, his past statements. There is no level of outrage directed at his deceitful ads. This is an organisation that is completely, totally, 150% in the tank for the Democrat candidate."

There's also no indication, from this report at least, that Schmidt made any attempt to deny the accusation, he simply attacks the New York Times for having the temerity to report on this.

And Schmidt also challenged the charge that the McCain campaign have been lying. The only problem was that he lied as he did so.
Sen. John McCain’s top campaign aides convened a conference call today to complain of being called “liars.” They pressed the media to scrutinize specific elements of Sen. Barack Obama’s record.

But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy.

The errors in McCain strategist Steve Schmidt’s charges against Obama and Sen. Joe Biden were particularly notable because they seemed unnecessary. Schmidt repeatedly gilded the lily: He exaggerated the Biden family's already problematic ties to the credit card industry; Obama’s embarrassing relationship with a 1960s radical; and an Obama supporter’s over-the-top attack on Sarah Palin when — in each case — the truth would have been damaging enough.
The truth is that Obama held back from using the "L" word for an awful long time as the McCain campaign lied repeatedly and consistently, even after it had been pointed out to them that what they were saying was untrue.

Indeed, it was not until newspapers started openly calling McCain a liar that Obama collected together a pile of newspaper quotes to make an ad suggesting that McCain was lying. Obama was very careful that the charge in the commercial came from the mouths of others and not for himself, so Schmidt's central charge is, in itself, another lie.

The truth is that the press allowed the McCain camp to tell blatant lies for the longest time. It was only because the McCain camp broke with protocol - and continued lying even after it was pointed out to them that they were lying - which enraged in the press into vocalising what many of us on the blogs had been saying for weeks and weeks. The McCain camps disregard for the truth is simply without precedent.

All campaigns spin and exagerate, the difference is that, once it is pointed out to them that they have been rumbled, they usually drop the subject and move on. They never apologise, they never withdraw what they said, but they are usually careful never to say it again.

McCain and Palin have broken that code. From the Bridge to Nowhere to Obama's tax plans they have continued to lie long after the lie was pointed out to them.

There was inevitably going to be a backlash. McCain was telling the press that what they printed didn't matter. The press have egos too and so they hit back. Schmidt's latest petulant outburst implies that the McCain camp have realised that what the press print does have a bearing on things which they hitherto denied.

Schmidt's mistake is to lash out at the press and attempt to make them the story. It's far too late in the day for that to stick. The McCain camp, at this point, simply look desperate. As I have no doubt that they are.

They were willing to do and say anything to win. And now it looks as if that strategy is what is boxing them in. And they are furious and lashing out at everyone and everything. It really is an unedifying spectacle.

Hat tip to Balloon Juice.

Click title for full article.

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