Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A sympathetic profile or a mean-spirited lowblow...

(Cindy McCain winking alongside Sarah Palin at the GOP Convention. Photo courtesy of the LA Times Blog.)

The New York Times has done it again. Well, maybe.

In the October 17th issue of the Times, reporters Jodi Kantor and David Holpfinger wrote an exhaustive, biographical piece on Cindy McCain. It examines Mrs. McCain's personal life, ranging from her early days in Washington to her time on the presidential campaign trails in 2000 and 2008. Towards the end of the article, however, her addiction to painkillers, her involvement in the Keating Five scandal and various discrepancies in health and travel are highlighted.

A common mantra in journalism is 'timing is everything.' Why did the Times choose to publish a rather questionable article about McCain's infidelity with a former lobbyist (which has since been proved totally false) right as he won the nomination? Or why might the Times have decided to publish this article a mere two and a half weeks before November 4th and not months ago?

To affect public perception right before the election, says the McCain camp, who came out with a
response and said that this intimate portrait of Mrs. McCain proves (once again) the media's leftward slant and their unfettered support of Barack Obama. They do raise some interesting points. Why now? Why has there never been a single article about Obama's admitted drug consumption (cocaine use is a felony) or what about Michelle Obama's controversial thesis at Princeton? All very important, relevant questions that would allow us to get even more informed about a potential president and first lady.

To play devil's advocate though...Michelle Obama has gotten a lot more negative press through this campaign than Cindy McCain, notably on Fox where she's been called a 'baby mama' and the likes of Sean Hannity have repeated ad nauseum her now infamous "this is the first time in my adult life I have been proud of my country" comment. The right-wing blogosphere's has also labeled Michelle as Barack's 'bitter-half.'

Does this article mean that the Times is in the tank for Obama? Or may it just be a piece shedding light on a rather shrouded political spouse? I don't know the answer to either, but I do think the timing is questionable.

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Keith: Playing devil's advocate to your own political leanings is, I think, a useful rhetorical device that strengthens, rather than weakens, your writing. By ventriloquizing dissenting voices, if only to rebut them, you make yourself look---dare I say it?---more fair and balanced. And your argument, instead of being a one-note solo, becomes more nuanced, evincing a subtlety of mind that engages the reader and perhaps even makes her more sympathetic to what you have to say.
Now, to your points: Again, some of your assertions lack supporting evidence. Let me play devil's advocate for a minute: You say the charge that McCain was inappropriately involved with a former lobbyist is well and truly dead. "Some people say" (c) Fox News that's not at all the case. See this, from the left, and this (response to the previous NYT article), from the right. Fine to say you think the charge is dead in the water, but you must PROVE it.
Also, your main idea, frequently repeated throughout your post, goes largely unexplored. If you're going to accuse the Times of liberal bias, timing its rehashes of baseless charges for maximum damaging effect, then you need to demonstrate a historical pattern of doing so. And you need to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the paper consistently gives liberals or Dems a pass, right before election day. You do neither.
Finally, there are several factual errors here. It's demonstrably untrue that the MSM hasn't reported on Obama's drug use. The Times did a feature on Obama's drug use, for which many of my fellow alumni were interviewed, the gist of which was: Barack EXAGGERATED his drug use. In other words, he---disappointingly, for the tabloid gang---didn't smoke as much dope as he said he did in his memoir. Virtually every story on his college days (in the LAT, the Chic Trib, the Times) has noted his drug use, which he discusses in his memoir. As for Michelle Obama's scandalous thesis, The WaPo, Hartford Courant, CBS News, and Politico have all touched on it, the WaPo feature in considerable depth (it's referenced in the headline).