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John McCain: No longer a darling of the press

September 15, 2008 |  6:27 am

For years, no Republican in Washington was cozier with or treated better by the media than John McCain.

That is but a distant memory now, as was made clear over the past few days.

In an editorial that surfaced online Friday, the St. Petersburg Times declared bluntly that McCain's "straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak."

Also on Friday came McCain's much-publicized appearance on ABC's "The View." As part of the surprise grilling he came under (at least for part of the show), co-host Joy Behar flatly called two of his campaign ads "lies" (the candidate demurred from that assessment).

As weekend dawned, the slings and arrows directed McCain's way intensified. Mark Murray of NBC's political team provided this handy overview:

For a candidate who prides himself in "straight talk" -- and whose political image in part is based on that truth-telling reputation -- Saturday proved to be a brutal day for John McCain and his campaign.

First came a front-page New York Times piece noting that McCain "has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth." There was also an accompanying fact-check of McCain's latest TV ad, which called it the "latest in a number that resort to a dubious disregard for the facts."

The Washington Post gave "four Pinnochios" to McCain's recent assertion on "The View" that Palin never took earmarks as Alaska governor. Then the Boston Globe reported that Palin didn't really travel inside Iraq as has been claimed.

And Bloomberg News said that the McCain camp may not have been exactly truthful in estimating the size of its recent crowds. "Now officials say they can't substantiate the figures McCain's aides are claiming."

Sunday brought a sound scolding of the GOP presidential nominee from New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, in a piece headlined "Making America stupid." Here's the paragraph that especially caught our attention:

I respected McCain’s willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination. Now the same guy, who would not sell his soul to win his party’s nomination, is ready to sell every piece of his soul to win the presidency.

McCain's rapport with reporters and the kudos he often won in print and on the air were a key reason his standing within his party was tainted. For many Republicans, it meant he simply couldn't be trusted.

Looks like that's one political problem he no longer has to worry about.

-- Don Frederick

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