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Russert: ‘In Time,’ McCain Will ‘Receive The Same Scrutiny’ From The Media As Obama And Clinton

By Matt Corley on May 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm

"Russert: ‘In Time,’ McCain Will ‘Receive The Same Scrutiny’ From The Media As Obama And Clinton"

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In a New York Times/CBS News poll released earlier this week, 28% of Americans said that the media have been “easier” on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) compared to just 12% and 22% who believe they have been “easier” on Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL), respectively. A new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that McCain has received significantly less media coverage than the Democratic candidates.

During MSNBC’s primary coverage last night, Hardball host Chris Matthews described the “way the media works,” saying that the media “block the sun” and “completely ignore John McCain’s problems” while the Democratic primary campaign continues. Matthews’s colleague, Tim Russert, defended the media’s performance, saying that it is a “long campaign” and the media will get to McCain’s problems “in time”:

RUSSERT: We get flooded with e-mails, Senator McCain making a mistake on Shia versus Sunni, making mistake about the first Persian Gulf War and the second vis-a-vis oil. His own relationship with Pastor Hagee and why isn’t that talked about and reported on the way Reverend Wright’s relationship with Senator Obama is talked about. But all that in time. I mean, it is only May. This has been going on for some time but it will be a long, long campaign. And when Senator McCain is back in the media’s light, he’ll receive the same scrutiny.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/05/RussertMcCainScrutiny.320.240.flv]

Russert — who recently told Don Imus that McCain has been given a “grace period” to get his campaign in shape — isn’t the only journalist to defend McCain’s soft gloves treatment.

In an online chat last month, the Washington Post’s Shailagh Murray told readers who wanted a greater focus on McCain to “just wait” because he will “will get his fair share of scrutiny” after “the primary battle is over.” Another Post reporter, however, tried to defend the media’s derelict coverage:

ABRAMOWITZ: I don’t think McCain is being cut a break by the press for verbal miscues: When he confused the Sunni and the Shia, the press was on it immediately.

As Media Matters has documented and Russert seemingly acknowledges, major media outlets routinely fail to report on McCain’s “verbal miscues.”

Transcript:

MATTHEWS: Do you think they’re aware the way the media works? I was explaining this to a group of students the other night, that, you know, as long as we focus on the the fight between Hillary and Barack, and perhaps more recently just on Barack’s problems, it blocks the sun — the media, the public’s attention — from the problems that are incipient and coming to be at some point with McCain. His problem with the war, which is unpopular, his problem with the economy, which very unsteady right now. The more we focus on the Jeremiah Wright story, the less we focus on Hillary’s problem with candor and the more we completely ignore John McCain’s problems. Do you think the Democratic war horses know as long as there’s a fire going on in one of the rings, the Barack Obama ring, we’re not going to vote as much on John McCain’s weaknesses.

RUSSERT: yes. they believed initially ignoring the McCain campaign was beneficial and helpful to the Democrats. But as this is has gone on, they see in their minds, we get flooded with e-mails, Senator McCain making a mistake on Shia versus Sunni, making mistake about the first Persian Gulf War and the second vis-a-vis oil. His own relationship with pastor hagee and why isn’t that talked about and reported on the way Reverend Wright’s relationship with Senator Obama is talked about. But all that in time. I mean, it is only May. This has been going on for some time but it will be a long, long campaign. And when Senator McCain is back in the media’s light, he’ll receive the same scrutiny.

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