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After 40 long days John McCain answers five (5!) media questions

... Finally!

After 40 days of avoiding the national media like Joe Lieberman avoiding the Senate's Democratic caucus lunches, John McCain held a press conference on Tuesday in Freeland, Mich. No, really.

The media avail was a far cry from the days when McCain's campaign wasn't doing very well and he spent hours chatting up and with reporters -- whom he once called "my base" -- on the Straight Talk Express. Today, he took five whole questions, largely dealing with the proposed federal government bailout of financial firms.

McCain declined to say what would amount to a deal breaker but said he did not support Democrats' proposal to add an economic stimulus package:

I don’t think anything should be added to this legislation. This legislation should stand on its own. Secondly, the way out of this is to grow our economy. Cut spending. Keep taxes low. Make sure there are incentives in place for jobs and businesses to grow and flourish.

Though the press conference was short, it was more access than ever offered by running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has yet to hold a full media avail since she was named the GOP's vice presidential nominee last month, although she has been interviewed by hand-selected reporters. On Tuesday, Palin's staff nearly incited a riot when it tried to deny reporters what limited access they'd been promised.

The rare media access to McCain also comes at a time when his campaign is increasingly slamming the media as biased. On Monday, campaign honcho Steve Schmidt came out with both barrels aimed squarely at the New York Times.

"Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization," he said during a conference call. "This is an organization that is completely, totally, 150% in the tank for the Democratic candidate."

Last month, at the Republican National Convention, Palin drew some of her loudest cheers when she said, "... here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion -- I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country."

Such a technique is known as "playing the refs," in hopes that the ink-stained wretches will become self-conscious and provide softer, gentler coverage. It also clearly fires up some in the Republican base, who view the mainstream media as lapdogs for the liberal left.

To be sure, much has been made in that media of the lack of press access to the Republican ticket, while, as CNN's Political Ticker aptly notes, little has been said there about the absence of Joe Biden media availabilities since Sept. 7.

And, who knows, it might change the topic of discussion off this awful economic mess that's supposed to benefit the Democrats. Whether it will be a successful gambit through November remains to be seen.

-- Seema Mehta

Comments () | Archives (12)

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After Charlie Gibson's butchered editing of his Sarah Palin interview, and the liberal press trashing Palin but embracing Obama/Biden, I am thrilled to see McCain no longer deal with the press. What's the point anyway? What ever he says or Palin says will be trashed and will end up be insulting. I hope McCain/Palin win and never deal with the liberal press ever. Who needs them? The endorse Hate and Bias. They do not report truth, they are propaganda for the left. The liberal press needs to be marginalize so they come back to a professional center of journalistic integrity...something they lost years ago.

Do you know the last times the New York Traitor Times endorsed a Republican ?

It was "IKE" 52 years ago.

VJ Machiavelli,

I would love to see how McCain answers the growing scandal about his campaign manager's ties to Freddie Mac. Today's revelations include the fact that his firm may have been paid money for doing nothing for the past 2 years.

For the latest, and my posting of the racist McCain ad that started it all:

When will Sarah Palin release her tax returns?

McCain and Palin avoid the media for good reason. When you don't know the answer it is best to dodge the question.

So far, John McCain has shown that he has no clue as to the workings or malfunctions of this economy. To him, things seem pretty good, our economy is strong. I guess that it would seem strong to someone who can't remember how many homes they own or at which home they might have left one of their thirteen cars. Perhaps he should ask his multi-millionaire wife about the economy as she probably watches the bank account a bit more closely.

Seema, I think your "playing the refs" remark is right on target. It doesn't seem to be working with the NYT, however. As another poster notes above, they've come right back with a story about Rick Davis's firm receiving a retainer from Freddie Mac until just last month.

Interesting . . . I have been trying to research the root cause of the subprime lending practices, and it all seems to tie back to Clinton's loosening of the 1977 Community Reinvestments Act in 1994. Bush tried to reform the amended laws and called for oversight of Freddie and Fannie, but the Democratic congress shot him down.

'These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.'' Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed. ''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.

Just thought I would share some of my research.

What are republicans afraid of? Why is McCain suddenly trashing his old "base"? Is it because he's going to lose the election and he has to play the hurt puppy and blame it on someone else?

Why don't they let the press have closer access to Sarah Palin? Why don't they let the press test her mettle? Is because she really has none? Is is because they don't want Americans to discover that all we'll be getting is a nice looking bimbo to be a short cardiac away from taking control of a trashed economy and misguided and mismanaged foreign policy?

McCain-Palin, no ideas, no solutions, no substance, no change, no future for America.

Pippa writes from Africa:
Thank you for the entertaining spectacle known as the American elections.

Sarah Palin is not dodging the press. The game is that by keeping them at arms length, she does not drop off the radar. This is exactly what the Republicans want.
Hence, the press will continue to savage Palin and she can take it on the chin and is enjoying the ride.

Um.. dare I ask? What foreign policy exposure has Obama experienced? Precious little.

People, wake up. Phone Nelson Mandela for some advice.

Peace Out!

Re DJN's can you call the media lairs when it's the candidates themselves not telling the truth. As a long time republican, I expect more from a potential president and vice president. I've been checking Factcheck and now understand that it's not the press but rather the candidates misrepresenting themselves. This will be the first time I'm going Democratic as are many of my close friends and associates. I had hoped and defended the party despite Pres. Bush putting us in the worst shape our country has seen in my lifetime. It looks like the values of McCain are the same as Bush.

Can you imagine watching Pres. Obama face to face with Putin and the Chinese leaders! Obama, " OK we'll disarm our military and I will take your word that you'll do the same!"

Dear Pippa although you are writing from African you have more insight than most readers when you write: Um.. dare I ask? What foreign policy exposure has Obama experienced? Precious little. But Pippa we're not suppose to talk negatively about Obama it might be deemed racist! Thanks Pippa!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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