Democrats and Republicans complained about being "Borked" -- blocked in the confirmation process for a judgeship or other office -- but I think we need a similar word for what happens when the press, rather than a political party, decides it simply won't tolerate a candidate for office. I think we need to say such a victim of the press is being "dorked" -- made to look like a dork by the press so the public won't take him seriously.
Admittedly, some early victims of "dorkings" were Republicans -- Dan Quayle, and possibly the elder George Bush (at least at the hands of Maureen Dowd) in 1992. But it seems to happen a lot more to Democrats. It happened to Dukakis in '88 and to Gore in 2000 -- and now, I think, it's happening to John Kerry.
This entire article about Kerry campaigning in Iowa (from The New York Times) is an attempt at dorking. A sample passage:
There was the forced chitchat with construction workers at noontime in Davenport. "Has the wiring changed?" [Kerry] asked an electrician, Corey Higgins, who did not quite grasp the question. "What's an amperage you put into this thing? Where did you do your apprenticeship?" (Mr. Higgins later confided he would be sunning himself in Antigua during the caucuses.)
There was the curious conversation with a union man, set up by one of his aides for the commercial's film crew, in which Mr. Kerry pointed skyward, striking a visionary-looking pose, but was actually asking about the architecture of downtown Davenport and saying how he hated when old buildings were torn down.
The article ends with a sneering reference to Kerry's daughter quoting an astrology column in the newspaper -- as if we haven't all read parts of the paper we don't ordinarily read when we're engaged in a lot of hurry-up-and-wait traveling.
From this we learn absolutely nothing about Kerry's suitability for the office. The only difference between this article and a talk-radio blowhard calling Kerry "Ketchup Boy" is that this has more syllables.