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Bill Keller: McCain's Bias Claims Make Me Want To "Find The Toughest McCain Story We've Got And Put It On The Front Page"

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At this weekend's New Yorker Festival, Ken Auletta moderated a panel called "Covering the Campaign" with Bill Keller, Jack Shafer, Peggy Noonan and Ta-Nehisi Coates. It was terrific and I live-Twittered it, and my highlights are below. For me, there were two standouts: Coates and Keller, the former because he's such a dynamic new voice, and the latter because he's such a dynamic new voice. What I mean by that is, I have never seen him speak before — he's not one for these panels that often — and I was struck by how forthright and engaged he was. For instance, his blunt response to Auletta's question about the attacks by the McCain campaign: "My first tendency when they do that is to find the toughest McCain story we've got and put it on the front page." Also, it was a treat to see him smile and laugh, which he did often. Which was a surprise actually, but nice to see. Anyhow, the fruits of my Twitters are below - enjoy!

  • Covering the Campaign panel: Peggy Noonan, Bill Keller, Jack Shafer, Ken Auletta, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

  • Peggy had the floor for a while, with sympathy for Palin's tough campaign experience. She said that intvus are about thrust and parry.... 09:24

  • ...and debates are about thought and reflection. She said debate showed that Palin knew how to think. 09:25 AM

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates: "I never thought that she didn't know how to think, just that she doesn't know how to answer." 09:27 AM

  • Keller: We fact-check campaign ads more than we did 4 years ago, and that's a real service. Took a lesson from online. 09:29 AM

  • Coates: As a blogger, I appreciate the MSM - Jeff Goldberg in the Atlantic, Couric, Lizza in NYer on O in Chicago. 09:31 AM

  • But - we have missed a real opportunity to talk about race here. What does it mean? His votes in SC, how he's diff than Sharpton - the why. 09:34 AM

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates is a STAR. Writer, thinker, and clearly such a mensch. STAR. 09:36 AM

  • Keller: We did! I can't tell you how many hours we spent! 09:37 AM

  • Also, to Coates: We've got a series coming up you're gonna like. 09:37 AM

  • Peggy: The passing of Tim Russert at NBC has had an effect on the whole. 09:38 AM

  • Big broadcast networks are not covering like they did. Peggy noticed the diff at the conventions. 09:39 AM

  • Bias! Auletta asks about sexism (Hil and Pal), black bias (Wright), Mormons (Romney) 09:40 AM

  • Keller: Hoyt's column will address the McCain camp claims of bias. His conclusion: We've written more tough pieces on Obama than McCain. 09:42 AM

  • Keller on McCain camp criticism: "My first tendency when they do that is to find the toughest McCain story we've got and put it on the front page."

  • (But he doesn't.) 09:43 AM

  • "My first tendency when they do that is to find the toughest McCain story we've got and put it on the front page."

  • Oh come on Peggy, don't blame Hillary for acknowledging actual sexism. It WAS there, incidentally at least if not systemically. 09:45 AM

  • Shafer: calls back to Dan Okrent on examining bias. Yeah it's there but at the end are they fair? 09:47 AM

  • Shafer: I don't feel so bad asking a politician the hard questions. 09:48 AM

  • Shafer ran local papers and said that it was really hard to find a conservative who wants to be a reporter. (They all wanted to be commentators in a bow tie like George Will.) 09:50 AM

  • Auletta: Media has a bias for conflict. 09:53 AM

  • Keller: it's true, we don't report on all the people who didn't get murdered yesterday. 09:54 AM

  • Coates: Sometimes I wish I had an editor...you don't always filter yourself, esp when you're angry. 09:56 AM

  • Auletta to Peggy: What are we missing? She can't believe the segregation of candidates from the press. 10:06 AM

  • She thinks they miss moments of observation, getting a sense of who they are by the moments of how they act. 10:07 AM

  • Coates: Okay fine, but isn't that how the press got so surprised by McCain and his conduct now? 10:08 AM

  • Shafer: Beware of access, too much of it is corrupting. 10:09 AM

  • Shafer shouts-out Jake Tapper and John Dickerson, the Twitter king 10:10 AM

  • Keller: NYT site had 40 million pageviews on Sept 15th when Wall St went to hell. 10:32 AM

  • Questions! This is where I got up and filmed a few, so I didn't Twitter. Great questions from an informed audience. A woman named Maggie had a pointed question on sexism in the campaign coverage; Jack Shafer said he didn't feel qualified to address that. Afterwards I raised an eyebrow at Shafer in disbelief - if anyone is qualified to call bullshit on the press, it's him. Just one lipsticked gal's opinion. Speaking of lipstick, Noonan made a great point: However grueling a candidate's schedule in, add one one more hour in the morning for a woman, who has to do makeup, hair and pick an outfit that won't send the press into a tizzy. "I don't want to see them without makeup, either!" she said. Eh, I have no problem with it. Also, Peggy was wearing very cool tinted shades. Maybe she didn't have that hour, but I think she holds up just fine either way.
  • Great panel. Ta-Nehisi Coates is my new fave. Shafer is a loveable curmudgeon, as always. 10:50 AM

Update: Here is a video from question period, with the great question on sexism in the campaign from Maggie Haskell, I think her name was.