Media Target McCain to Help Obama

by CLIFF KINCAID February 22, 2008


The New York Times vs. John McCain controversy is becoming the subject of endless stories and fodder for the talking heads on television. This story has overtones of sex, even though the paper offered no hard evidence that McCain was involved romantically with a female lobbyist.

The names of four reporters are on the Times’ McCain story, with two others identified as contributors. Many hours were obviously devoted to it. But I can find nothing in the Times analyzing the passage of Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama’s $845 billion Global Poverty Act (S. 2433). Why have they not gotten around to reporting on this? Obama, after all, is a candidate, too. Have they been too busy trying to track down rumors about McCain?

One of the criticisms of the Times story about McCain is that it is speculative. There is no question, however, that McCain is surrounded by and has relationships with lobbyists, and that is a legitimate issue. By the same token, Obama has been surrounded by socialists, and, as AIM
recently disclosed, was mentored by a known member of the Communist Party. But this is not an issue for the Times or any other liberal news organization.

The failure to cover the passage of the Obama poverty bill demonstrates what is wrong with so much of the media these days. It can be tedious to research and write about legislation. It is more exciting to pant after a politician’s sex life, especially when that politician is a Republican. Plus, the Global Poverty Act has a noble purpose, and most reporters probably want to see it passed. They would rather keep the American people in the dark about what it would actually cost. By keeping the process free of public scrutiny, the media may ultimately succeed in getting the bill passed by the full Senate and even signed by President Bush. Then the media will proclaim it all to be a victory for Obama and it will be too late to do anything about the horrendous costs and implications of the legislation.

The passage of the Obama bill is far more important than McCain’s sex life. Indeed, a Texas State Senator named Kirk Watson recently made a fool of himself by failing to come up with any examples of Senator Barack Obama’s legislative accomplishments when he was on an MSNBC program hosted by Chris Mathews. It was “Stump the Chump,” Watson later joked. But both Watson and Matthews seemed not to know that Obama, in fact, had just scored a major accomplishment. His Global Poverty Act commits the U.S. to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations through a global tax if necessary.

Why the media black-out on this bill? Is this not something we should begin talking about? After all, it’s on the verge of passing the full Senate and becoming law.

Matthews probably doesn’t know anything about the bill. In fact, it is curious why so few journalists in the major media have made an issue out of what is in this controversial legislation. Perhaps it’s just too difficult to understand. I spent quite a bit of time trying to explain the legislation to Bruce Becker of the Fox Business Network and he still didn’t get it. I have written a detailed explanation that will hopefully find its way into his hands.

On February 13th, however, Obama himself issued a press release hailing passage of the bill in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It must be a priority of American foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water,” Obama said. His press release said that his bill makes it official U.S. policy to achieve “the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme global poverty in half by 2015” and that the president must do this through the use of “measurable goals,” certain “efforts,” and “benchmarks” and “timetables.”

An inquiring reporter might ask: what is the Millennium Development Goal? And what is the cost of such a gargantuan effort? But we have few inquiring reporters these days. Rather than explore the nature of a United Nations-backed proposal that could cost $845 billion, reporters at the New York Times have now published
a story about Republican presidential candidate John McCain having an alleged relationship with a female lobbyist. Ironically, the liberal Times had endorsed McCain as the best Republican in the presidential race. Were they just setting him up for the kill?

Reporters don’t need any special inside sources to cover the Global Poverty Act. It involves analyzing the text and the underlying United Nations documents. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if reporters are not accustomed to examining proposals that have their roots in U.N. conferences and resolutions. But isn’t this what reporters are supposed to do?

So rather than report on what actually happens on Capitol Hill, the Times assigned its investigative reporters to go after rumors of something that may or may not have happened to McCain years ago.

This kind of circus is why the major media are held in such low regard. 

Interestingly, State Senator Watson has now come up with a list of Obama’s legislative accomplishments. Presumably, these were supplied by the Obama campaign. They concern issues like health care and congressional ethics. But the Global Poverty Act isn’t on his list. Why? Is this something that Obama himself doesn’t want to defend? Has it become too hot to handle?


The rationale for the Times story is that McCain’s alleged relationship with the lobbyist raised ethical issues. What about the ethics involved in the passage of a costly bill in the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by voice vote without any hearings being held? This is the equivalent of a global legislative earmark.

Senator McCain brings more attention to the Times story by attacking it. He may figure that being attacked by the Times will rally conservatives to his corner. That may be true if there is absolutely nothing to the story and that nothing else of an incriminating nature comes out. Regardless of whether the story itself is true, conservatives defending McCain will also have to overlook the fact that he relies on lobbyists to run his presidential campaign.

It is also true that McCain hired an expensive lawyer, Bob Bennett, to deal with the controversy and hold meetings with the Times about the developing story. This seems to be going to extraordinary lengths to deal with a story that is supposed to be full of holes. The fact is that the story looks bad for McCain, no matter how carefully worded it is. Bennett has been making public appearances to defend the Senator’s conduct.

Whatever happens to McCain – and conservatives have to consider the possibility that he will eventually be forced out of the race – Obama’s Global Poverty Act will remain on the public agenda. It is worthy of McCain’s attention because he may soon have the opportunity to vote on it. Can he stop fretting about the Times long enough to tell us where he stands? At the same time, Senator, will you tell us your latest position on the UN’s Law of the Sea Treaty? That is coming up for a full Senate vote, too.

But these are issues, and they don’t seem to matter to most of the liberal media.

# # Contributing Editor Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media. He can be contacted at
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