|It's hard to believe, but at the low point back 2007, there was actually a month in which John McCain was only identified with "straight talk" every other day! But, soon as he finished fourth in Iowa, it was SHOWTIME!, and the "straight talk" poured down like Seattle rain--more than 13 times a day:
The "maverick" label suffered almost as much in 2007: there were three months in which it appeared less than once a day. But come that fourth place finish, and voila!--more than ten mentions per day in January:
Finally, John McCain never really stopped being a POW. Even in his leanest months, he was still so identified at least once a day. But the last three months of 2007, he began regaining his stride, with three or four mentions per day--just short of five per day in December--and a Great Leap Forward to 12 mentions a day following his historic fourth place finish in Iowa:
Scoff all you want at the "liberal media" label. But one thing's for sure: when it comes to showering John McCain with the words he loves to hear, the media has always been very, very liberal when it counted most.
What To Do
In a conference call announcing the chapter's release, co-author Paul Waldman discussed what can be done to change the coverage.
"We have a right as citizens that all the candidates should be judged by the same standard," Waldman said. He argued that some of the same techniques that had been used to corrupt the system could be used to correct it as well.
"Working the refs...can be used for good or ill. If we can create enough of a concentration on this [pro-McCain press bias], something can happen. If their professionalism is being attacked, and they're being constantly criticized, they may want to prove they are tough and independent."
One particularly promising avenue of attack Waldman suggested, would be to get more attention paid to Arizona reporters, and their reporting, which is far more reality-based that that of their DC bretheren. While local Chicago reporters have been appearing on tv to talk about Obama, Waldman said, "I have yet to see a single Arizona reporter get on TV to talk about John McCain."
Getting their voices out, and ultimately getting them directly on screen could go a long way towards introducing some balance and sobriety in covering McCain--and it's something that bloggers could help do, both by digging into their past work, and by paying attention to, linking to, and promoting new stories as they come out.
For example, Waldman mentioned the new story, just published yesterday--the day of the conference call--"In tight Senate votes, McCain not a maverick" by Ronald J. Hansen of The Arizona Republic. The subhead to the story reads, "When it matters the most, he seldom bucks his own party."
This is how the story begins:
Over the years, Sen. John McCain has publicly condemned Republican Party leaders and occasionally voted against the GOP on selected issues.
But an Arizona Republic analysis of his Senate votes on the most divided issues in the past decade shows that McCain almost never thwarted his party's objectives.
The presumptive Republican nominee arguably cast the decisive vote 14 times since 1999 to ensure Republicans got their way, and he had five other close cases where his vote may have made a difference, Senate records show. By comparison, McCain effectively handed Democrats a win on roll-call votes four times in the same period. On one of those occasions, Republicans could still have won if Vice President Dick Cheney had cast a tie-breaking vote.
The numbers are based on a review of Senate roll-call votes since 1999 that ended in a tie or were settled by one vote. The closest votes in that period included momentous, partisan-charged legislation, such as President Bush's tax cuts. More often, they were procedural votes on deal-breaking amendments to bills that would otherwise pass.
They partly reflect how rarely Senate votes come down to a single person, even though the chamber has been narrowly divided on party lines most of the past decade. But the votes also suggest that when McCain broke from Republicans, others often joined him, keeping the votes from being so close.
And here's a crucial expert quote:
"He is a conservative who votes conservative on most issues," said Keith Poole, a political scientist at the University of California-San Diego. "By no means is he a liberal or even a moderate."
Poole, who compiles a widely respected analysis of all Senate votes, ranks McCain as slightly less conservative than most Republicans throughout his career and near the far edge of the right while running for president.
In fact, Poole's analysis encompasses the entire history of both Houses, since the First Congress. His VoteView website can be found here.
This story was highlighted by Crooks and Liars here. This is what we need to do much, much more of.