Friday, February 22, 2008

A new media victim?

Yesterday I wrote about Republican spin against a Democratic candidate. Today we have evidence the media can be guilty of questionable behaviour, too—or do we?

The New York Times, often called the most important newspaper in America, ran a story quoting unnamed sources saying that presumed Republican nominee John McCain may—or may not—have had a romantic (meaning sexual) affair with a lobbyist, and this is what the media focused on. McCain, of course, denied the allegations.

The right wing media immediately spun this as the evil “liberal” New York Times picking on McCain. Was it really?

To be sure, their focus on a personal relationship between McCain and the lobbyist—attributed to anonymous sources—was hardly defensible. But the larger issue here is whether or not McCain used his position to try and influence public policy to the benefit of the clients of that lobbyist. That simple question has been lost in the aftermath. CBS News reported that the McCain campaign was pleased with itself, having shifted the focus onto the New York Times itself.

I have to admit that initially I was all ready to accept the right wing spin about this being the New York Times beating up on McCain. But when I thought about it on my own—without filtering—I saw things differently. Did McCain try and influence public policy on behalf of private interests? The public has a right to know, no matter how imperfectly the New York Times raised the question.

Answer, McCain: Don’t try and shift the focus.

No comments: