Scarborough, Stahl, Shrum, Rollins, Rather, And Weisberg Dissect Press Coverage Of 2008 Election

12/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Huffington Post

Monday night The Week magazine hosted a dinner panel on media at New York's Rainbow Room. The panel, moderated by Sir Harry Evans, discussed the media's coverage of the election before a packed house, which was fed lamb and served wine to listen to Dan Rather, Joe Scarborough, Lesley Stahl, Ed Rollins, Bob Shrum, and Jacob Weisberg expound of the coverage of the election. Media names like Richard Johnson, Tina Brown, Joni Evans, and Michael Musto were in attendance, as were Patricia Duff, Steve Brill, and Mika Brzezinksi — all of whom posed questions to the panel.

Portfolio.com's Jeff Bercovici was in attendance, and he reported some highlights, many of which came from Scarborough, who Bercovici declared "was in top form throughout."

  • Scarborough introduced himself with a joke about his on-air dropping of the F-bomb yesterday: "I have a show on MSNBC with Mike Brzezinski called Morning Joe, now with a seven-second delay." Big laugh.
  • More Scarborough: "We actually had a combination of the most brutally efficient campaign ever run on the Democratic side against one of the worst I think anybody's ever seen on the Republican side. John McCain had no overall strategy. He had a lot of day traders."
  • Weisberg: "I think there was media bias in favor of Hillary Clinton, and here's why. It was virtually mathematically impossible for her to be nominated from late March on, and the media continued to pretend that there was an active campaign. And the reason is it serves the interests of the media to have the campaign go on longer."
  • More Weisberg: "Obama captured the imagination of the country, and that includes journalists, who are human."
  • Scarborough: "I love Hillary. She's my girlfriend. We don't like to talk about it much."

Folio's Dylan Stableford was also there, and reports that Lesley Stahl described McCain's campaign as "dreadful." From his write-up:

Leslie [sic] Stahl--who said she watched most of this campaign, unlike others she had covered, from "her bedroom"--said McCain "did such a dreadful job as a candidate" the media had no choice but to cover Obama.

"McCain was like the 1962 Mets," said Shrum, who had served as a senior advisor to the Gore-Lieberman and Kerry-Edwards tickets in 2000 and 2004, respectively. "They couldn't cover him positively."

Shrum added that there was a natural bias because the Obama-Clinton race lasted longer than the race for the Republican nomination. "A Time magazine cover with John McCain in April would've looked ridiculous," he said, "because McCain had it locked up."

"Obama was new," Weisberg said. "It had to do with a bias toward the story."

Stableford also reports that Rather, who hosts a show on HDNet, said the Republicans need to learn to embrace the internet:

Rather, who filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS for making him a "scapegoat" in the so-called "Rathergate" controversy in 2004, said Republicans "need to get hip to the Internet and things like YouTube." (Ironically, it was the Internet, specifically conservative bloggers, which spurred on "Rathergate" and led to the newsman's undoing at CBS.)