April 14, 2008

Uh oh, someone is feeling a little threatened by Cliff Schecter's new book, The Real McCain. Perhaps it's a little too close for comfort for Grampa McSame to have someone in the media actually not falling over themselves to paint him as the lovable curmudgeon or buying him doughnuts. A prominent paper in the UK has killed a feature they were going to run on Cliff and The Real McCain after McCain's team was contacted for a comment and they proceeded to smear Cliff as "unstable."

The journalist in question asked not to be identified so as to not face any problems from the paper in question. But I did confirm that the story was killed based on a conversation with McCain's staff. From the email received by the journalist at the newspaper:

They told me that first that this was all off the record, that (Cliff Schecter was) a super liberal with a hate streak, known to make outlandish comments like this and not a reliable source. Then they said that they would prefer that we didn't go with anything, just to protect the Senator's image from false information. Because this was just a crazy, gossipy piece of journalism anyway.

I then asked for a quote for the article, as my editor needed something from them. They said, "Well, I know you aren't going to like this" and with a little almost smirk from them: "This book is just tabloid trash," said Crystal Benton, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign. "The fact that it is even being reported speaks to the sad state of journalism today."

Actually, the fact that this stuff NEVER gets reported speaks to the sad state of journalism today, but it's typical Republican logic to twist that around. There's no question that McCain would prefer that this information stay private, why would he be happy that people know he gets into fistfights with colleagues and calls his wife vulgar names? But Cliff's book is hardly full of false information. All the revelations inside have been confirmed and further, many were available from various other news reports over the years, but as is the sad state of journalism today, hardly focused on and never pulled together into one compendium.

But the official quote given to the paper is the kicker. That's a dogwhistle to anyone in the industry that calls their credibility into question if they run the story. That's some cagey work, a non-denial denial of facts and yet guaranteed to make any editor reluctant to run the piece.

But this is also why it's so important for us to support our progressive community. We know that the media is loathe to break past the little narratives they've created, so it's up to us to make sure books like The Real McCain get noticed. The higher up it goes on the booklists, the harder it is to ignore and the more likely we'll see more of that famous McCain temperament if journalist actually start asking him about information from the book. It's a win-win for our side.

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