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Ticket Replay: 3 papers endorse McCain; coincidentally, they're kicked off Obama's plane

This weekend The Ticket is republishing some items of particular interest from the past political season. This one appeared here originally on Sept. 31, 2008:

The Barack Obama for president campaign has kicked off its campaign plane three newspaper reporters.

The campaign says it was a tough decision deciding to boot the working reporters for the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Times. But, they say, there are only so many seats on the plane that the spunky new Christian Science Monitor politics blog calls "O-Force One."

A confident Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama

And somebody had to go for these last few campaign days.

It's probably just a simple coincidence that all three newspapers recently endorsed Obama's Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, for the White House job.

"It feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth," quipped John Solomon, executive editor of the Times, which lost its seat after three years of travel with the candidate and just 72 hours after endorsing McCain.

That newspaper's website this afternoon headlined a report that Obama spent nearly $700,000 in U.S. campaign donations just on staging and lights for that Berlin victory rally last summer and those 200,000 Germans who can't vote over here. Gee, you could dress more than four Republican vice presidential candidates with that much money.

What's not to like in that news for the Obama campaign?

The Dallas paper reported no evidence its plane departure was political. Think about it: Why would a political campaign take retribution on reporters for a decision made by their publication's separate editorial boards? The publications, after all, pay their own way on the charters.

That would be a cheesy hardball -- and quite possibly counterproductive -- Chicago kind of thing for a frontrunner to do, especially one on a national unity ticket. A candidate's organization would have to reflect an enormous ego and over-confidence to pull something like that.

Next thing you know such a campaign might urge supporters to clog a radio station's phone lines or e-mail boxes just because it gave air-time to an Obama critic.

And it's certainly not the kind of hands-across-the-aisle, bipartisan change we need and/or can believe in a national capital that could use a large dose of both.

True, the Obama campaign has buttoned itself up from most press access, apparently fearing some kind of late-minute gaffe that might threaten its lead in most polls.

A reporter could choose to travel instead on the Joe Biden plane, plenty of seats there, and perhaps really exciting, except the old-time senator who ad libbed that Hillary Clinton might have been a better Democratic VP pick coincidentally hasn't done a media availability since right after the Republican convention in early September.

Amazingly, as Howard Kurtz points out, two seats did suddenly open up on the Obama campaign plane this weekend to accommodate Ebony and Essence magazine reporters. Another coincidence. 

--Andrew Malcolm

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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.
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