The Devil’s Bargain

The latest report on how the McCain campaign is tightly managing Governor Palin’s interactions with both the press and the public is noteworthy but hardly news to observers over the last 10 days.  Aside from an interview with People magazine, all of her appearances have been completely controlled by Team McCain.  This will continue, apparently, until the Ms. Palin sits down with Charles Gibson at the end of the week.  That’ll be two solid weeks of nothing but the same set of soundbites from the GOP’s VP candidate.

What really struck me, though, as I read the AP story was the complicity of the media in allowing this state of affairs to persist.  Nowhere have I read of any efforts by the large traveling press corp trailing the McCain/Palin roadshow to break through the cordon around Ms. Palin.  Ditto the local press at the various stops.  To the contrary, it appears they’ve stood where they were told, kept their mouths shut as instructed and been careful not to rile their handlers.

Chances are they won’t be doing a lot of riling despite my wishes to the contrary (What ever happened to the calling to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?”). The campaign controls who gets on the plane and who doesn’t, who gets invited to briefings and who doesn’t, who gets the leaks and who doesn’t.  Unfortunately, not too many news organizations are willing to suffer a competitive disadvantage by taking that risk.  Ditto most journalists who don’t want their careers derailed by breaking protocol.  This is the kind of devil’s bargain that shape coverage in ways that don’t often get noticed, but is real nonetheless.

Looks like we’re getting closer to that “respectful and deferential” standard all the time.

– Austin payroll services fine

3 thoughts on “The Devil’s Bargain

  1. EMM says:

    Amen, brother.

    When the press is so distracted by the pseudo-events of a rally in a high school gymnasium, its members cannot be doing the independent investigation and fact-checking they’re in a unique position to do. Let’s find out more about the backgrounds of Palin and Obama, check the senate voting records of Obama, Biden and McCain and check the “truthiness” quotient of statements all four of the candidates make.

    But watching your daily countdown kind of makes me think that black hole business wouldn’t be such a bad thing…

  2. It’s sad the reporters are worried about getting kicked off the plane. They should be on the damn plane to begin with. It makes them dependent on the campaign for transportation and, indirectly, approval of sorts.

    Not only that, but the plane takes them to more places where more scripted bullshit takes place. People criticized the huge media presence at the conventions, but there was actually some potential news made there — not the *politics* of the speeches and the videos but the *policy* of setting the party platform and whatnot.

    Of course, the policy didn’t get much attention. And these plane-bound reporters are going from event to event with even less substance.

    Although, on the other side of the coin, if reporters didn’t breathlessly follow candidates’ every footstep, we’d never have known about this lipstick comment. Oh, wait…

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