Washington Post’s Balz: Media will scrutinize McCain ‘once the general election really begins.’

During a Washington Post online discussion today, a questioner wondered why Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is running close to Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in polling despite “discontent” with the direction of the country and President Bush “at an all time high.” Post reporter Dan Balz cited McCain’s “maverick identity,” and — echoing one of his colleague’s sentiments — added that press scrutiny of McCain will come in time:

It’s been said repeatedly that McCain may be the only Republican who could win the White House, given the public’s disaffection with the president and the GOP. Both he and the Democratic nominee will get renewed scrutiny once the general election really begins.

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NBC’s Tim Russert has also acknowledged that McCain has avoided press scrutiny because of a “grace period” the media have given him. As Atrios patiently noted, we’re “still waiting.”