Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The press and the McCain lie-fest.

I've been talking for a while now about how the press are stirring when it comes to McCain and Palin and the lies that they are telling. The press simply aren't used to having a campaign ignore them like this.

They have pointed out the fallacy of Palin's "Bridge to Nowhere" claims, but she just keeps making them, repeating the lie day after day after day. The Washington Post have gone as far as calling this "a whopper", but even that hasn't stopped Palin from repeating the lie, day after day after day.

They have dismissed McCain's lipstick claims, that Obama was actually referring to Sarah Palin, as "laughable", but McCain goes on to The View and defends the charge.

Now, as predicted, the criticism has turned into an avalanche of complaints:

St. Petersburg Times (Editorial) “Campaign of lies disgraces McCain” McCain's straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak. It is leaving a permanent stain on his reputation for integrity, and it is a short-term strategy that eventually will backfire with the very types of independent-thinking voters that were so attracted to him.

Atlanta Journal Constitution (Jay Bookman) The volume and audacity of lies pouring from the McCain campaign is startling and even historic…That’s really something, lying straight out about a FactCheck group, knowing that you’re going to get caught but not giving a damn about it. With stuff like this, the McCain camp has cut any remaining tethers to reality and integrity and is now floating wherever the winds of illusion and whimsy may take them. It’s quite remarkable, and quite insulting to the intelligence of the American people.

Pittsburg Post Gazette (Tony Norman) Where have you gone, John McCain? You once said you'd rather lose an election than lose a war. Is it worth winning an election if it means forfeiting your soul on the altar of political expediency?...Where is the honor in reciting lies for something as transient as political advantage? What are we as voters supposed to make of political ads that accuse Barack Obama of advocating sex education for kindergartners?... Despite the intellectually dishonest maneuvering of your campaign, many Americans admire you, John McCain. Before you embraced the darkness, I was among those who disagreed with your politics, but considered you honorable. Now it's hard to look at you without seeing the scoundrels who made you what you are today.
But, despite all of the above, McCain and Palin are ignoring the press and pushing on with their dishonest claims. I've never seen anything like it in my lifetime.

It is being reported that the press corps have been dumbfounded by the way in which the McCain campaign are behaving.
The McCain press corps -- once the undisputed kings of McCainworld, with the best seats on the bus and unlimited bull sessions with the endlessly-solicitous candidate -- has, in the past couple of months, been turned into nothing so much as the campaign's Elois. Non-local reporters are sequestered in their own charter bus, separated from the Straight Talk Express, and quarantined at events. They are ordered to treat the candidates with "respect and deference," as though they were campaign secretaries. The basic function of a journalist is to ask questions -- fish swim, birds fly, reporters inquire -- but the McCain campaign no longer allows any questions, so there's not much for the traveling press to do beyond take down the minutes at event after event, publish what information the campaign deigns to provide, and bear witness to Sarah Palin's slowly-changing hairdo.
And the reporters who follow McCain are supposedly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, such is their shock at the contempt in which they are currently held.
Why do reporters still bother to travel with McCain? Or, if we have to, why don't we rise up en masse, flout the quarantine or demand more access, an active press being fundamental to a democracy? Normally, cutting off the press poses at least the risk that reporters will turn against you. But a bit of Stockholm Syndrome has developed within the McCain press corps, a sense of awe at how deftly and brazenly the McCain campaign has rendered them useless and plugged its ears to their investigations. Reporters demolished the claim that the Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, and yet the McCain campaign insolently still uses it. Writers dismantled the McCain campaign's untrue assertion that Barack Obama compared Sarah Palin to a pig yesterday, and yet the campaign put out an audacious ad featuring the ridiculous allegation, presumably on the assumption that Real Americans don't care what the elite press says anyway.
McCain's campaign is nothing if not audacious. He has decided that the press does not matter and that the truth does not matter. He will say what he wants, no matter how untrue it is or how often the press point out his untruths, because basically he believes the public are too stupid to work out what it is that he is actually doing.

I think this McCain strategy is suicidal. McCain is, understandably, living within a campaign bubble; and, even if his travelling press corps are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the rest of the US press corps are not.

A point of critical mass will be reached at which point the press will hit back forcibly and this will overwhelm even McCain's audacity. He is in great danger of becoming a laughing stock as his campaign is lying and, after being caught out on those lies, is refusing to stop telling them.

He's certainly breaking new ground - and there are some who think he will get away with it - but I am not of their number.

He's trying to lie his way to the White House. It won't stand. This is not the run up to the Iraq war, where challenges to one's patriotism could make the press roll over on to it's belly. The press take themselves seriously, some would charge too seriously, and they are not going to take an insult on this scale without reacting.

McCain is playing with fire and he is going to get burned. Deservedly.

He could get away with this tactic if he employed it in the last two weeks of the campaign, but there is too long to go and too many pages to be filled with stories for this not to become a running theme. McCain is simply lying, the press are starting to turn on him, and yet he continues as before.

It's unprecedented, perhaps historically so, for a candidate to behave with so little respect for the truth. And it's the height of arrogance for McCain to assume that the public aren't bright enough to see through what he is doing.

They will. The press will make sure of it.

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