In March, at a conference of the nation's newspaper editors, two of the Associated Press' top political reporters greeted John McCain with a box of Dunkin' Donuts. One of the reporters was careful to get McCain his favorite kind — "Oh, yes, with sprinkles!" he said — and then passed McCain a cup. "A little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar," the AP's Liz Sidoti said.
Since then, I can't help but notice that the AP hasn't exactly been neutral. A month ago, the AP ran an article about the "people who might complicate Obama's campaign," including Tony Rezko and Jeremiah Wright. The piece not only read like a slam job, it actually resembled an RNC oppo dump.
Two weeks ago, the same reporter who made sure McCain had coffee to go with his donuts wrote a scathing, 900-word reprimand of Obama’s decision to bypass the public financing system in the general election. It was filled with error of fact and judgment, and ignored the fact that McCain has illegally played fast and loose with the public-financing system this year.
When Obama unveiled his faith-based plan this week, the AP got the story backwards. When Obama talked about his Iraq policy yesterday, the AP said he'd "opened the door" to reversing course, even though he hadn't.
And the AP's David Espo wrote a hagiographic, 1,200-word piece, praising McCain's record of reaching across the aisle. Reading it, one was unsure if maybe the AP had accidentally stuck a byline on a McCain campaign press release -- Espo went so far as to laud McCain's "singular brand of combative bipartisanship."
For more than a decade, on tobacco, health care, immigration, judicial nominees, creation of a commission to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and more, McCain has championed high-profile legislation opposed by President Bush or others in his own party.
His record of accomplishment is mixed, yet he has made his willingness to cross the political aisle a central theme in his campaign for the White House in an era when voters are plainly tired of partisan gridlock in the nation's capital.