All the Sad Young Journalists Who Used to Love John McCain
On the whole, the journalists who've TURNED AGAINST their former boyfriend John McCain are some of our least favorite journalists in the nation, embodying as they do everything insular and adolescent about the Washington Press Corps. They loved John McCain when he could convince them that he was only bullshitting to the voters, not to them. Now, he won't speak to them! And hey, he's lying about shit, too, but whatever. Today, another media person handed McCain back his class ring and ran home, weeping. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, explain yourself!
I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician's lap. Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.
But now, John McCain lies. And it's not like 2000, when John McCain lied about loving the confederate flag and then apologized for lying, because back then he'd wink to Richard Cohen every time he did it, so Rich knew it was just a thing he had to do, this lying.
Anyway, Rich, your column went over great with Joe Klein, who is pretty much just like you except he writes for Time. So that's two useless moderate bearded columnists off the straight talk express! Who's next? Wait, David Brooks? No, wait, he just doesn't like Sarah Palin anymore. Because she's not a comfortable entrenched establishment conservative like David Brooks, but rather a scary culture war populist idiot, like Bush.
And, of course, Andrew Sullivan—once a gay Catholic right-winger (well, honestly, still those things in his head) who wanted to kill all the Muslims and accused liberal journalists of being in league with the terrorists right after 9/11—never wastes an opportunity to point out that John McCain has lost his respect (we're sure that keeps the senator up at night). Of course we're being unfair in only listing people we never liked. (JK Andrew, you've grown on us.) Ana Marie Cox likes McCain—for that openness and access that Rich Cohen pretends not to care about!—but she has been critical of his campaign, lately (though she scored a late-August interview with the candidate—just before the Palin selection!) And Jon Stewart had McCain on his Daily Show more often than any other guest. But during the RNC the show produced what is maybe the most damning and mean indictment of the man's entire biography we've ever seen. To sum up: in 2000 John McCain learned that making friends with the media does not win elections, and this year he may yet learn that pissing them off has no consequences.