John McCain has historically courted and cultivated relationships with reporters of the traveling press corps, so much so that BBC's Katty Kay once referred to the press as McCain's "base." That may be changing, according to a report from Michael Shear of the Washington Post, who observes that McCain's "new press strategy" is to "avoid them":
McCain today held a 10-minute press conference, complete with podium, microphones for the questioners, network-quality audio and a camera for a local television station, which allowed CNN to carry it live.
And where was the national press corps?
Sitting on the runway 27 miles away, having been ferried to McCain's charter plane, totally unaware that a press availability was about to take place until one of the handful of "pool reporters" sent an e-mail alert.
Shear speculates that McCain's shift in his stance toward the press may have something to do with his campaign's recent acquisition: "The new approach may reflect the growing influence of the newly-powerful Steve Schmidt, a top adviser and protege of Bush political guru Karl Rove, who was famous for his desire to control the press's access to his candidate."
But! If you are willing to be a dedicated flack for the McCain campaign, it's a different story entirely. David Corn explains:
During a July 1 McCain campaign call featuring Senator Lindsey Graham and Orson Swindle (who was a Vietnam POW with McCain), only two questions were taken--both from conservative bloggers. The first came from Ed Morrissey, who asked Graham and Swindle, "Can you explain the significance of John McCain's command experience in the Navy...as well as whatever leadership he has shown in the Senate....and can you address...that Barack Obama doesn't have any executive experience at all?" The next query came from Matt Lewis. Referencing retired General Wesley Clark's recent comment that McCain's military service and POW experience did not qualify him to be president, Lewis asked Graham and Swindle if Clark's remark was part of "a concerted effort by the Obama campaign, or can liberals simply not keep themselves from attacking the military?" Then the call was over.
Corn asks: "Had it been merely a coincidence that the only questioners had been rightwing bloggers who had served up soft balls?" Naturally, we have no idea! But that trademarked "straight talk" is becoming a notably scarce commodity.