OBAMA: WORKING THE REFS IN REVERSE?
Yesterday I argued that Barack Obama needs to make more mistakes -- he makes a good impression (as he's done throughout his overseas trip) and then he gets good press coverage, but then he's blamed for getting good press coverage, often by the same news organizations that gave him good press coverage in the first place, and voters hear (from the media) that the media is trying to throw the election to Obama and then those voters seem to become more receptive to McCain. (This was in response to polls suggesting that Obama is having trouble holding on to a lead in key swing states, precisely when his news coverage is much better than McCain's.)
Well, perhaps Obama has figured out a different way to work the refs in reverse. This is all we saw first thing this morning on the front page of the New York Times Web site about Obama's Berlin speech:
Today's print Times is similar -- the "vague on issues" "news analysis" made page one, while a straight report on the speech was tucked back on page A19.
Has some disillusionment settled in at the Times? And could the more negative tone have anything to do with the resentments recounted in Gabriel Sherman's New Republic article "End of the Affair: Barack Obama and the Press Break Up" -- for instance, this?
Around midnight on July 16, New York Times chief political correspondent Adam Nagourney received a terse e-mail from Barack Obama's press office. The campaign was irked by the Times' latest poll and Nagourney and Megan Thee's accompanying front-page piece titled "Poll Finds Obama Isn't Closing Divide on Race," which was running in the morning's paper. Nagourney answered the query, the substance of which he says was minor, and went to bed, thinking the matter resolved.
But, the next morning, Nagourney awoke to an e-mail from Talking Points Memo writer Greg Sargent asking him to comment on an eight-point rebuttal trashing his piece that the Obama campaign had released to reporters and bloggers like The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and Politico's Ben Smith. Nagourney had not heard the complaints from the Obama camp and had no idea they were so steamed. "I'm looking at this thing, and I'm like, 'What the hell is this?' " Nagourney recently recalled. "I really flipped out."
... the episode still grates. "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others," Nagourney tells me. "I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent."
I hope Obama's coverage turns more negative -- right now, the one thing that seems to be holding the listless and dispirited McCain semi-coalition together is the sense that voting for the old guy is a way of sticking it to "the messiah" and the media simultaneously. We know Obama can handle a wave of attacks in the press -- remember the Jeremiah Wright days? -- but I worry that his campaign can't take too much more good press.
Illustration at Lucianne.com today