Friday, February 22, 2008

EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL. I finally got up the nerve to read that New York Times story on McCain. And it is a story, in the old-fashioned sense. As I suspected, the Iseman angle makes it a little sexy, but its shape is practically Jamesian. McCain is portrayed as a tempermental outsider who finds himself enmeshed, against his better instincts, in the graft-heavy world of politics, and struggles against the tidal pull with limited success. The big integrity props he gets from Russ Feingold only sharpen the conflict as McCain finds himself trapped in a world he never made:
At one point, his campaign invited scores of lobbyists to a fund-raiser at the Willard Hotel in Washington. While Bush supporters stood mocking outside, the McCain team tried to defend his integrity by handing the lobbyists buttons reading “McCain voted against my bill.” Mr. McCain himself skipped the event, an act he later called “cowardly.”
The reporters, being reporters, have a bit of fun with the contradictions:
“Unless he gives you special treatment or takes legislative action against his own views, I don’t think his personal and social relationships matter,” said Charles Black, a friend and campaign adviser who has previously lobbied the senator for aviation, broadcasting and tobacco concerns.
But there is also a woman, and that makes the tsimmis and the rush of rightwing pressers to McCain's defense. Even Tucker Carlson has stepped up to say, "I instinctively jump to the defense of anyone whose private life is violated" -- an absurdity, given his Monica Lewinsky pronouncements. It doesn't matter; the blowjob defense is now universal.

People who know how to read demur. Chuckling observes:
In a stunning innovation in Newsspeak, I mean lingusitic cleansing, the New York Times redefined blatant corruption as "confidence in one's integrity" to describe their allegation that John McCain has been fucking his lobbyist and doing her political favors for sex and money.

Note that "political favors" is so ingrained as Newsspeak that it has become almost totally disassociated with its meaning. Poor "corruption's" harshly interrogated letter structure as been linguistically cleansed and now resides in a relocation camp somewhere in the Mideast.
I am in some sympathy with Chuck's take, but spare a kind thought for the Times. The currently common idea that this was a politically-motivated smear is ridiculous; McCain is in a zone where nothing can hurt him, maybe the only such zone he will enjoy this year; who would intentionally smear him now? Even some wingnuts acknowledge this, but portray it as a gaffe by the Times, not a sign of journalistic integrity. Indeed, how could they? For them, reporters not employed by Reverend Sun Myung Moon or Rupert Murdoch are demons motivated only by unthinking hate.

The Times reporters appear to have done the best they could with the facts at hand to write a publishable feature about a Presidential candidate. The stuff about the chick is highly qualified and speaks in context more to McCain's judgement than to his sexual drives. What it is, of course, is very different than what, in the current climate, it has been made for partisan purposes to seem. It's a stretch to say their editors were naive; no one naive gets to that status at the Paper of Record. Still I suspect that the newsmen, buffeted as they eternally are by highly politicized "media criticism," headed toward the only port their profession offered them, and endeavored to produce a story that conformed to what they understood to be journalism. It's just their tough luck that in these parlous times there is no such thing as journalism -- there is only propaganda, either intended or ascribed.


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