MEDIA
10/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Did The Media Break Up With McCain? Fox News Seeks Answers

Have you been wondering why the longstanding affection between John McCain and the press corps has seemingly hit the skids? Probably not! After all, it's not like it was angels or ghosts or dead sea scrolls that sent the entire media off on their daylong "lipstick on a pig" adventure last week! Nevertheless, it's clear that in the McCain-Media coupling, someone's not buying somebody flowers anymore. So what gives? This morning, Fox News took up the query, and they put it to Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. Oooh! I wonder what he'll say!

GOLDBERG: I think the reason that the media used to love John McCain is that he ran against George Bush who is perceived as a conservative. That is why they liked him. They liked him because John McCain was not reliably conservative. John McCain seemed to like sticking his thumb in Republican eyes and that he seemed more concerned about what liberal Democrats would think of them than what conservative Republicans would. That is why they used to like him. The reason the love affair is over is a couple reasons. It is our because he was running against a liberal Democrat. That will sour the liberal media on any Republican. The second reason, which the media never even factored in, he might actually win. They never counted on that. The third reason is that they think he sold out. How dare he put Sarah Palin, whom they detest, on the ticket.

As it happens, I'm inclined to agree with Goldberg's contention that the press loved McCain more when they didn't have to take his actual electoral chances seriously. Why bother with tough questions when no one thinks you have a shot? There was ample evidence that fellow contender Mike Huckabee could not even count, and yet no one said anything, because the Huck was such a delightful ironist - why ruin his traveling comedy act?

The rest of Goldberg's formulation, of course, is a mess of turgid partisan hackery and armchair psychoanalysis, all of which, I suppose, I could counter with a bunch of my own, insisting, as many do, that the press has turned on McCain because they are sick of being lied to, only I do not believe even for one instant that this is true! Besides, as it happens, there is a perfectly rational, thoroughly grounded, "Occam's Razor" explanation for why the cozy relationship between McCain and the press has ended: the McCain campaign ended it:

Schmidt has one thing in common with Karl Rove: He is very, very good at his job. Okay, maybe one other thing: He also hates the media.

"Thank God you (the media) asked him (John McCain) about birth control," he says, referring to the uncomfortable exchange last month about whether insurance companies that cover Viagra should cover birth control.

Planned Parenthood turned that awkward moment into a campaign ad and McCain, who had been stubbornly refusing to give up his unscripted, on-the-record Straight Talk Express chats, was irked enough to rethink his embrace of what he used to call "his base."

Schmidt smiles: "I finally got to kick you off the bus."