McCain Camp Declares All-Out War on “Cone-Gate”
With the fact that McCain was not in the so-called “Cone of Silence” during the faith forum now out in the open, various media outlets are beginning to shine some light on this fact. The McCain camp has decided to declare war. First, against NBC:
We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain.
Nowhere was this more evident than with NBC chief correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s comments on “Meet the Press” this morning. In analyzing last night’s presidential forum at Saddleback Church, Mitchell expressed the Obama campaign spin that John McCain could only have done so well last night because he “may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.”
Questioned by the New York Times, they even invoke McCain’s POW status(!):
Nicolle Wallace, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, said on Sunday night that Mr. McCain had not heard the broadcast of the event while in his motorcade and heard none of the questions.
“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.
Considering that McCain has admitted to cheating on his first wife, I don’t know if I would have my spokesperson use that particular line, but it will be interesting to see how this plays in the media tomorrow. Attacking the media is of course a well-worn Republican tactic; usually done to gin up GOP support and increase donations, as well as distract from the substance of the issue at play. Depending on how the talking-heads play it, it could also be used to try to define Obama as a complainer because he allegedly didn’t do as well as McCain at the forum (though for the record, he did just fine, as many reporters have said). Obama should be careful here with his response. It’s important he not go on the defensive here; he did fine at the forum and he should say as much. Frankly, I would dismiss this story if I were him, and not get caught up in a back-and-forth with the McCain campaign. This story will be fodder for the pundit shows (BillO will pop his top, I’m sure), but Obama should focus on the campaign.