Soon after the New York Times published an article exploring Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) unetheical relationships with lobbyists, McCain banished reporters covering his presidential bid — who have been said to be his political “base” — to the back of his campaign airplane.
But over the weekend, McCain reversed course, hosting a “thank you” cookout on Sunday for over 40 reporters from a wide variety of news outlets — including the New York Times — at his vacation home in Arizona.
McCain’s latest “charm offensive” to “woo the reporters” and appease his “constituency” may have paid off. After McCain grilled for his guests, shared his secret recipes, and provided guided tours inside and around his “rustic Arizona home,” reporters have taken the bait. McCain and the press are back together again. Some highlights from the press accounts of the McCain barbeque:
— “The idea…was to allow reporters to get to know him and his staff under less stressful circumstances. (The fact that the media spent the weekend at a resort called Enchantment probably contributed to that feeling.)”
— “There is something surprising — perhaps even metaphysically provocative — about the notion of Mr. Straight Talk in such close proximity to what may be the nation’s highest proportion of crystal-wielding psychics.”
— “McCain held court the way he does almost daily aboard his ‘Straight Talk Express’ bus.”
— “McCain comes across as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy, not terribly given to brooding or introspective meditation.”
— “As grillmaster, he looked like the all-American dad, with a story for every spot in the house.”
Some even boasted of McCain’s cooking skills:
— “McCain stood over not one, but two gas grills, cooking up ribs and chicken for his guests.”
— “So how did they taste? Objectivity prohibits a good reporter from passing judgement, but let’s put it this way: everyone wants to come back.”
In two separate articles on the same day about the event, the Washington Post linked McCain’s vacation home to the “notion of the Presidential Ranch” and compared it to those of Presidents Bush (41 and 43), Reagan, and LBJ.
Newsday said that McCain “made no news and the press corps was well behaved during the two-and-a-half hour barbecue.” Indeed, McCain seemed to appreciate his guests’ appropriate behavior as they boarded the bus to leave the event: “We’ll have to do this again,” McCain called, waving. “See you tomorrow!”