"Media Blindly Pick Up McCain’s Talking Point That Town Hall Meetings Are His ‘Strength,’ ‘He’s At His Best’"
Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sent a letter to invite Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to join him “in participating in town hall meetings across the country to discuss the most important issues facing Americans.” Later today, McCain told reporters that he “prefer[s]” town hall style discussions, saying he “would never have been able to win in New Hampshire if we hadn’t have conducted 102 town hall meetings.”
After learning of the proposal, media figures took him at face value, simply repeating McCain’s claim that he is well-suited for the town hall meetings:
– MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “One of the points there is to take advantage of McCain’s presumed strength in the town hall format and in loose conversations.”
– MSNBC’s Monica Novotny: “So it seems that these town halls would work to his strength.”
– Fox News’s Juan Williams: “That’s his strength. That format, when you get John McCain doing town hall meetings, he’s at his best.”
Really? Are town hall meetings really good for McCain? Does the town hall format create space for the presumptive Republican nominee to shine? Not exactly. Here are some lowlights of McCain “at his best” during various town hall meetings this GOP primary season:
– QUESTION: “How do we beat the bitch?” McCAIN: “That’s an excellent question.”
– SUPPORTER: “Another man — wondering if an attack on Iran is in the works — wanted to know when America is going to ‘send an air mail message to Tehran.’” McCAIN: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”
– QUESTION: “President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years — [cut off by McCain].” McCAIN: “Maybe a hundred.”
– Student on McCain’s position on gay marriage: “I came here looking to see a leader. I don’t.”
– McCain called a student asking about his age “a little jerk,” adding, “You’re drafted.”
The media has seemed to be operating in the “if McCain says it, it must be true” mode for most of this campaign season. McCain has not only benefited from “very friendly” press coverage over the years but numerous reporters have said they’re unsure when they’ll start scrutinizing his record and what he says.