Monday, April 10, 2006

For McCain and the Press, the End of the Affair?

Howard Kurtz says:

John McCain was expecting journalists to start slapping him around, and he hasn't been disappointed.

As he gears up for a likely presidential campaign, the Arizona senator knows that reporters and columnists -- whom he jokingly described last year as "my base" -- have to prove their independence this time around. Media folks spent so much time riding on McCain's bus and listening to his rolling news conferences in the 2000 campaign that they were often mocked for swooning over the candidate.

A spate of critical columns, some of them by disaffected liberals who were once honorary McCainiacs, seemed to culminate last weekend on "Meet the Press" when Tim Russert asked:

"Are you concerned that people are going to say, 'I see, John McCain tried "Straight Talk Express," it didn't work in 2000, so now in 2008 he's going to become a conventional, typical politician, reaching out to people that he called agents of intolerance, voting for tax cuts he opposed, to make himself more appealing to the hard-core Republican base'?"

"When loving McCain was a way of expressing a negative opinion about the Republican Party, they were all for him," says Mike Murphy, a top McCain adviser in 2000. "Now that McCain is a strong potential candidate, some fickle liberal hearts are not fluttering as much."

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