Saturday, November 08, 2008

Newsweek's Passive Tense:

Here's another example. The description of McCain's "campaign suspension" begins without any mention of the by now well publicized fact that his campaign staff urged him to suspend the campaign and rush back to Washington to seize the moment in terms of the campaign, not to actually do anything politically. We know that. We've known that for quite a while. But Newsweek's giraffe of a story ambles through a not very accurate account of McCain personally deciding to suspend, rushing back to Washington to total rejection by both Democrats and Republicans, botching his own photo op, refusing to speak at his own meeting, and then winds up with this howler of a paragraph. Its only *now* we are told that the stunt was, well, a stunt. And yet the reporters continue to insist that there is some ambiguity here, that McCain was "sincere" and that the entire fiasco wasn't predictablly the result of piss poor planning and a lousy candidate.

Later, after McCain's ride to the rescue had been mocked in the press, some of his advisers blamed Steve Schmidt for the fiasco. The campaign's chief strategist was forever searching for the bold stroke, the instant game changer, but by urging McCain to go to Washington, he had impetuously and blindly steered the candidate into a trap. "McCain never saw it as a stunt," insisted one aide. But to most commentators, the bizarre rush back to Washington seemed gimmicky—one more tactical gambit in a campaign that seemed to lack any coherent or consistent strategy. The Obama team never took seriously McCain's announcement that he was suspending his campaign and putting off the first debate. They noted that McCain never canceled his hotel reservations (or most of his ads) or informed the Commission on Presidential Debates that the candidate would not be attending. Some McCain staffers later confessed they didn't think for a second he'd skip the debate.
Also, why is the factual information that McCain never, in fact, suspended or canceled *anything* left up to the Democrats in the quote? This is an after the fact research piece. If it is ever appropriate to reduce real situations to "he said/she said" during a hard fought campaign surely it is no longer necessary afterwards?


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