One of the things I haven't seen mentioned regarding The Late Show is that Senator McCain actually used the show on February 28, 2007 to announce his Presidential ambitions. Below is an excerpt from the New York Times article describing his announcement.
Mr. McCain is known as something of a free spirit, and his aides suggested that his remarks to Mr. Letterman were, if formal-sounding, extemporaneous rather than a result of careful planning by his campaign. Nonetheless, aides said, his appearance clearly fit into the campaign's effort to stir as much excitement and interest as possible in his plans -- a point Mr. McCain himself made as he and Mr. Letterman bantered on.
Oh, how things have changed. When considering his recent conduct within the context of this announcement, we are given further insight into how dramatically the Senator's relationship with the press has transformed. David Letterman joked that the election goes through him and in the case of John McCain, it literally did. Senator McCain, once infamous for his "straight talk" has been remarkably silent over the last month and unabashedly dismissive. Speaking through his campaign Ads and his surrogates, the candidate has gone out of his way to avoid the media. Prior to this week, his last press conference was on August 13th. Although it's tempting to believe that he seeks to "bring the message to the people", the fact remains that the media is one of the tools we have at our disposal to decode the messages that are coming out of both campaigns.
The candidate who was once a "free spirit" is now conducting a campaign that is has gone to great lengths to attack and evade the press. Ben Smith is "in the tank", Andrew Sullivan's emails to the McCain campaign are being distributed to reporters, even Tina Fey is sexist.
It is true, that the media is often prone to pushing the more tantalizing narratives. Sensationalized stories are often a substitute for the content that the American people actually need to make an educated decision. Nonetheless, we rely on the Press to ask the questions that we're incapable of asking. We assume that our candidates will respect this dichotomy. We assume that they will embrace freedom of the press understanding that it is was established with transparency and accountability in mind. The media has become one of the biggest distractions in this election. Of course it's legitimate to question their reporting, however, it is never okay to request "deference" in exchange for reporting.
I join the chorus of voices who have called on both John McCain and Governor Palin to hold extensive press conferences. I call on the McCain campaign to recognize that they are in a contested election with Barack Obama.
Let the media do their job.
It is the responsibility of Senator McCain and Governor Palin to give us an accurate view of what their administration might entail. We require more than the picture painted in their stump speeches, and we need to hear more than campaign talking points. We rely on the Press to probe into the generalities, to present the people with an indication of where campaign rhetoric meets reality.
Senator McCain's recent proposal to post-pone the Presidential debate is another instance of how much things have changed. The same man who called for town hall meetings is backtracking on an opportunity to share the stage with Senator Obama. I understand that there is a crisis at hand, but I also understand that this election will have a tremendous impact on this crisis. The next President will inherit this mess and the American people deserve to hear how both candidates suggest we proceed.
Perhaps it's not deliberate but the McCain campaign is doing a disservice to the American people. They are stripping us of the tools that we have, the tools that we need, to evaluate their credentials and vision. This election isn't a photo-op. It's ironic, the McCain campaign has been pushing the notion that Senator Obama is a"celebrity" on the one hand, on the other, they shun they press as if they were little more than a political paparazzi.