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John McCain and his fair-weather journalist “friends”

Written By | Aug 26, 2018
John McCain, Fair-Weather Journalists, Stephen Nemo

WASHINGTON: Senator John McCain of Arizona, who lost his battle with cancer on Saturday, was many things to many people. But the self-described Republican “maverick” was also many things to the same people. Take The New York Times editorial board for instance.

McCain’s fair-weather journalist “friends”

For example, the nation’s “newspaper of record” endorsed McCain in the Empire State’s 2008 Republican presidential primary, saying:

“Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.”

A few months later, the same fair-weather journalist friends at the New York Time’s editorial board condemned McCain in its general election endorsement of then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama:

“Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of running mate [Alaska’s Gov. Sarah Palin] so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.”

John McCain, Maverick, Fair-weather Journalists, Fourth-Estate, Stephen Nemo

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barak Obama. CBS News screen capture.

In February of that year, the Times published a front-page story in which unnamed sources accused McCain of having an extramarital affair:

“A female lobbyist [Vicki L. Iseman] had been turning up with him [McCain] at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself.”

The Times’ own public editor, Clark Hoyt, condemned the article, saying:

“If a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide.”
A one-sided love affair between John McCain and Fair-Weather journalists

But that didn’t stop McCain’s strong admiration for the biased media institutions. Those same fair-weather journalists that so deftly moved from praising him for his “bipartisan legislation” one moment to condemning his “hints of racism” leveled at the man who would become the nation’s first black president.

No matter. McCain could always be counted on to defend his fair-weather journalist friends among the Fourth Estate.

John McCain, Maverick, Fair-weather Journalists, Fourth-Estate, Stephen Nemo

President Trump throws CNN’s Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office ahead of handing out his “Fake News Awards.” Fox News screen capture.

In an op-ed appearing in the Washington Post last January, McCain attacked President Trump. McCain’s target was the President’s bully pulpit success at diminishing the public’s existing and overwhelmingly negative view of a biased press.

“He [President Trump] threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing ‘fake news awards’ upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with… Journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely. Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.”

A sad legacy for John McCain

John McCain will forever be regarded warmly for his guileless view that “truth and transparency” are coins of the realm for the scribblers and talking heads of the mainstream media.

But it provides sad proof that no Republican politician in Washington was a better foil for the Democratic Party’s media propagandists than the affable maverick from Arizona.

They will surely miss having so easy a target to kick around and exploit.


Top Image: Arizona Sen. John McCain. CBS News screen capture.

Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.