John McCain’s camp is attacking the media for having the audacity to question Sarah Palin’s foreign policy experience, even though — as the GOP talking points go — her stellar qualifications include being a “commander in chief” (of the Alaskan National Guard) and living in a state that borders Russia. The Republican push back will undoubtedly work, as foreshadowed in this story today from Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post:
I’ve talked to many political professionals over the years who were mad at the media, or me in particular. But I’ve never quite had a conversation like the one Tuesday night with Steve Schmidt. He was absolutely furious as he unloaded on the journalistic community for, in his view, unfairly savaging Sarah Palin.
Sure, it is in his interest to try to get the press to tone things down. But Schmidt–Sen. John McCain’s hard-headed, no-nonsense, on-message strategist–really sounded shell-shocked. And so he was saying things on the record that senior aides usually say only under a cloak of anonymity. That doesn’t make his accusations right. But it does suggest to me that a brewing conflict between McCain and his media chroniclers–one that makes the ol’ Straight Talk Express days a distant memory–has reached the boiling point.
So McCain’s top strategist thinks the press coverage of Palin is unfair, and Kurtz clearly takes his opinion more seriously because Schmidt is “furious” about it. (Spinmeisters take note.) The media is asking tough questions about Palin — as are some conservatives — but someone has to vet her since the McCain camp clearly didn’t.
In general, the idea that the media is being overly critical of the McCain campaign is ridiculous. There was only so much convention coverage I could stomach, but
I didn’t see a lot of harsh attacks on the GOP during my channelsurfing. Consider this exchange on Fox News, between Chris Wallace and Karl Rove:
WALLACE: It seemed to me that — that in a very low-key, reasoned, cautious, Joe Lieberman way, he kind of took Barack Obama apart. And you know, it wasn’t red meat. And it wasn’t shouting. But in contrasting the real reform credentials of McCain and Obama, it was very powerful.
ROVE: He put dynamite underneath the two foundations of the Obama campaign and blew them up. Gifted and eloquent young man, but eloquence is no substitute for record. And then he talked about bipartisanship and said, in essence, McCain has done it. Obama has not. I think I’m with you. It was a very powerful demolition of the Obama camp.
From what I saw, the “savaging” of the Republicans by CNN was equally fierce.