Sometimes, what gets lost amid all the hootenanny over which candidate the media is "in love" with is that there's no real evidence that anyone benefits when a reporter or a talking head fawns all over an electoral contender. More often than not, you just get a bunch of water-muddying ads, such as the ones that seem to blame Barack Obama for being a press darling despite having something of an aloof, and often prickly, relationship with them.
But it doesn't take affection, or leg-tingles, to do what Andrea Mitchell did today (via Jed Report), which is to take John McCain's despicable "Troops" ad and demonstrate what a high-toned piece of gutter fraudulence it is. Displaying nothing more than a studied neutrality in tone, and well-armed with the facts that she herself obtained while overseas with both the CODEL and the Obama campaign, Mitchell was a leader in the field of not letting lying dogs sleep. Terming the ad "literally not true," and confidently summing up the ad as "inexplicable."
Mitchell is absolutely right on the merits. From FactCheck.org:
It's a fact that Obama canceled a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at the last minute after planning it for weeks. And it's a fact that reporters and their cameras would not have been allowed to accompany him. Furthermore, Obama probably did go to the gym that day, as he does practically every day. So the bare facts stated in the ad are true, but they don't support McCain's insinuation.
We can't read minds and so are in no position to know Obama's motives, or McCain's for that matter. It's unlikely, however, that the absence of press coverage would have been a factor in Obama's decision, as the ad implies. Obama says he never planned to take reporters on the Landstuhl visit, and Department of Defense rules prohibited him from taking reporters on previous visits he made with wounded troops.
Reporters were not allowed to accompany him when he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center on June 28. The small "protective pool" of reporters that routinely accompanies him was told by Obama's staff to remain outside, in the van, according to a reporter covering the campaign. Similarly, Obama visited wounded troops in Baghdad earlier in his overseas trip, but he did so without reporters and "without a lot of fanfare, just to say 'Thanks'," according to Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who accompanied Obama.
It's true Obama made time for at least one workout while he was in Germany. And he has been known to dedicate more than a few minutes to his exercise regimen. Two reporters who cover Obama, and who were on this trip, tell us that the candidate works out every day, and sometimes twice a day. However, the video of Obama playing basketball featured in McCain's ad is from his time in Kuwait, not Germany.
This whole episode should be sufficient to demonstrate that a single reporter committed to doing a good job is worth a thousand sycophants.
UPDATE: Olberman and Maddow demonstrate that they have no trouble telling the truth about McCain's "unconscionable" ad, either.
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