The Times may have blown it by spending so much time pussy-footing around with the infidelity innuendo–the real story is the lobbyist entanglements McCain has apparently decided to lie about. Because of the shoddy sex scandal lens through which the Times has focused, McCain may not have to account for himself.
Still and all, I’m raising a glass of this week’s favored beverage hoping for some permanent damange to McCain’s previously cushy relationship with the press. I’m also loving the image of McCain’s staff sending the press to sit in the corner.
Before McCain boarded his plane, reporters were asked to sit farther back than usual on the plane.
But wait, there’s more!
Near the end of the flight, Schmidt came back to the press cabin, where, with cameras off, he railed against the New York Times for publishing its story. “The Times in a post-Jayson Blair, post-Judith Miller world… went through a painful period of self-evaluation,” Schmidt said. “That went out the window yesterday with this piece on John McCain…This is much more a story about journalism than a story about John McCain.” When reminded that the Washington Post also published a story today, Schmidt shrugged. “The Washington Post piled on (but) the Washington Post didn’t instigate the story,” Schmidt said.
Instigators? Has the McCain campaign decided on a strategy of isolating the Times from its peers? Trying, perhaps, to act as the stern authority figure to transform the Times into the [Warning: Possibly NSFW Video] Private Pyle of the press corps? Before they push this too far, McCain’s people may want to think about how well that worked out.
If McCain makes them feel less special, the press might stop fluffing his aura of Maverickness and start pursuing stories about his actual record. If we get really lucky, CNN will set up an Internet poll asking if viewers think that McCain isn’t vengeful enough.