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McCain vs the press. Who decides narrative?

First, a disclaimer. I’m a Dem from a swing suburb of Denver. Why do I read RS? Same reason that I watch Nat Geo shows about cannibals, I guess. You can, of course, discount this diary, but it struck me that you’re indulging in some group fantasy. I wonder if you can square the idea of “the press being biased on their message” and “we need to change the message”.

John McCain previously described the press as his base. He allowed unprecedented access, and I think a lot of the press gained an admiration for him through this. I think there was a genuine feeling within the press that McCain was unfairly maligned by Bush during the 2000 primaries.

I know that many Republicans will dismiss out of hand the MSM. “MSM are the enemy” is a strategy that resonates with a lot of the Republican base. I think that we can agree that there have been significant, even seismic shifts in Republican registrations. A simple and effective “get out the base” effort is definitely essential to the Republicans, but does not get them over.

Dem’s and Indy’s read and watch what you would describe as the MSM. It’s part of their routine and entertainment. It is thus very curious to me as why McCain would decide to make the press the enemy.

He NEEDS the story to change. He doesn’t, however, decide what the story is. The MSM “elite”… the producers and editors decides what runs and when. They decide what gets investigated. McCain and Obama can both put out stories, but the attention they are given, is up to the MSM.

“Never argue with someone that buys ink by the barrel” is the saying, and McCain picked a fight with the NY Times. It might be argued that given the liberal lean of their editorial board, that its a no-win situation for McCain, but there is a lot of difference between indifference and active obstruction.

You might bring up “Rathergate”. ABC, NBC and the AP were only to happy to pile on to CBS. A good business decision for them, and business was their primary motive for sinking that story. It involved forged documents and was easily disproved. All things being equal from now til the election, Obama wins, and thus McCain needs to play offense. “Rathergate” was an example of an offensive foul, and McCain is more at risk than Obama in this.

I notice that the NY Times released a tame piece on Ayers. You’ll notice that they picked a news deadzone to release it. I’d also note that Wright, Ayers and Resko were used against Obama in the primaries, with little success. News organizations like new news, not old news. There is limited play in these attacks and ads, if new revelations do not come to light.

So.. what will be news worthy? As much as McCain would like to turn the page on the economy, there will be a drip-drip-drip of bad economic news. The bill may have passed, and may be successful, in part. Nothing is being done yet and little will be done for the next 30 days. They are, more or less, figuring out what exactly they are planning to do now.

The interbank squeeze is cascading down into commercial and consumer credit, and there is plenty bleak financial news yet to be reported.

The editors and press are happy to report polls as news. Slipping polls for McCain in Penn make a fine story; they can interview some people to substantiate the story and its really “easy” news to produce and sell. Of course, they could write “why can’t Obama close the deal stories” but only if they are feeling like doing so. Being slighted will probably color their choice of polling and “conventional wisdom”.

Also, as much as there could be revelations about Obama, so could there be about Palin. There are still a lot of investigators in Alaska, and she is somewhat of an unknown quantity.

All-in-all, I doubt that its so easy to change the page when you’ve made enemies with the exact people that you need to help you turn that page.

Whats your view? Can McCain skirt the media filter, or do all politicians need the MSM to get their message out?

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