David Brock and Paul Waldman have put together an excellent new book called Free Ride: John McCain and the Media, which documents the incredibly positive and fawning coverage John McCain receives from the pundit class that litters our print and broadcast news services. Here's another title that would have worked just as well for me to describe the hero worship on display that permeates their ranks: "McCain's Media," because, well---that's exactly what they've become. My task will not be to boldly go where no man has gone before, but to take a minute and highlight Media Myth # 5 :
John McCain doesn't do things just because they're politically expedient.
Brock and Waldman perfectly illustrate this point quite convincingly in his most blatant and obvious offense to this narrative. His relationship with the religious right:
As he prepared to make his second run for the presidency, McCain made a series of public shifts on his positions, the most ballyhooed of which was his rapprochement with Jerry Falwell, whom he had once denounced as an "agent of intolerance." The media noted the senator's rightward drift, but while a few criticized him for his fairly obvious attempt to pander to the Republican base, most of the media stuck to the script. According to his liberal advocates, the maverick was only suppressing his maverick instincts and doing what he needed to do to win the nomination. Once past the nomination process, the thinking went, the real, more moderate McCain would return. Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate, said that McCain's shift was "a stratagem -- the only one, in fact, that gives him a shot at surviving a Republican presidential primary." Jonathan Chait called McCain's shift a "fake right" (Free Ride, Pages 178-79). In recent months, McCain has backtracked on his positions on immigration and taxes, with an eye toward pleasing the conservative base. It goes without saying that any other politician who tried a similar gambit would be criticized for such blatant pandering. But for John McCain, the rules are different.
↓ Story continues below ↓
Nothing here to see folks, move along. It's no biggie, you see he really didn't mean it. Heck that whole Falwell thing was a terrible mistake. If that were truly the case then he would never have embarked on his next bold adventure into the world of John Hagee, the Catholic hating preacher.
He's so odious that even Bill Donohue of the Catholic League slammed McCain over his accepting this endorsement. And that says a lot right there. Donohue is a much admired figure of the media because of his incendiary statements and is constantly brought on to attack any Democratic politician he deems has offended his sense of religion. Why was he suddenly absent from the 24/7 cable news outlets during the McCain/Hagee courtship when the story broke? Yep, you got it. It really wasn't surprising to me because that would not have fit the image the kool kidz want America to have about John McCain. He once again got a Free Ride on that issue, "my friends"...Ahhh, they certainly are consistent with their love and protection for John McCain, aren't they?