Betsy Newmark has a nice roundup of media pique of late.
Howard Kurtz says that the media is starting to get angry about being manipulated by the McCain campaign.
The media are getting mad.
Whether it’s the latest back-and-forth over attack ads, the silly lipstick flap or the continuing debate over Sarah and sexism, you can just feel the tension level rising several notches.
Maybe it’s a sense that this is crunch time, that the election is on the line, that the press is being manipulated (not that there’s anything new about that).
News outlets are increasingly challenging false or questionable claims by the McCain campaign, whether it’s the ad accusing Obama of supporting sex-ed for kindergartners (the Illinois legislation clearly describes “age-appropriate” programs) or Palin’s repeated boast that she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere (after she had supported it, and after Congress had effectively killed the specific earmark).
The McCain camp has already accused the MSM of trying to “destroy” the governor of Alaska. So any challenge to her record or her veracity can now be cast as the product of an oh-so-unfair press. Which, needless to say, doesn’t exactly please reporters, and makes the whole hanging-with-McCain-on-the-Straight-Talk era seem 100 years ago.
As Jim Geraghty points out, McCain’s ad is correct about the Obama education bill. And John Hinderaker has demonstrated that both the Anchorage Daily News and the Alaska Democratic Party have credited her with blocking the Bridge to Nowhere.
Until John McCain selected her as his running mate, it never occurred to anyone to deny that Palin stopped the bridge. That’s certainly what the Anchorage Daily News reported on February 8, 2008:
Let’s count how many things Gov. Sarah Palin’s predecessor did that she’s undone.
It’s quite a list.
The state-owned jet: Sold.
The proposed Gravina Island “bridge to nowhere” and a pioneer road to Juneau: Won’t be funded.
And again on March 12, 2008:
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is aggravated about what he sees as Gov. Sarah Palin’s antagonism toward the earmarks he uses to steer federal money to the state. … A common target for earmark snipers is the so-called “bridge to nowhere” plugged by Alaska Rep. Don Young into the five-year transportation bill in 2005. Congress stripped the earmarks directing the spending but let the state keep the money to use on the bridge if it wanted. Palin ruffled feathers when she announced – without giving the delegation advance notice – that the state was killing the Ketchikan bridge to Gravina Island, site of the airport and a few dozen residents.
I don’t know how it could be any clearer: as the McCain ad says, Palin killed the bridge. Indeed, the Alaska Democrats themselves say, on a web site attacking Senator Ted Stevens:
Gov. Palin recently cancelled the Gravina Island Bridge near Ketchikan that would have connected the Alaska mainland with Gravina Island (population: 50).
It is frankly ridiculous to deny that Palin killed the bridge, as the ad says. If the Democrats want to attack some other aspect of her record, fine. If they want to say that she (like all state officials) was generally happy to accept federal money when it was offered, fine. But to say that the simple statement that she killed the bridge is a “lie” is false and disingenuous.
And Obama and Biden themselves voted for the Bridge to Nowhere and voted against an amendment that Tom Coburn had proposed to defund that bridge and send the money to aid victims of Katrina. So they have a lot of effrontery criticizing her from switching from her position in the election to what she actually did when they never switched and supported the earmark all along.
So Kurtz is right. The media is angry. Their chosen guy whom they anointed after his 2004 convention speech and have been supporting ever since is now running into a rough patch which exactly coincides with Palin’s emergence and the GOP convention. Sure the McCain campaign played them with that silly lipstick on a pig controversy. But no one forced them to cover the story or talk about it on their morning shows. And no one has forced them to have spent the past two weeks pulling their chins and discussing whether a mom could handle being vice president.
They certainly haven’t felt tormented over their coverage of Obama and how they helped him defeat Hillary Clinton.