Tuesday, July 1, 2008


ZACHARY ROTH, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW So: The latest round of mock outrage-in a presidential race that has turned the tactic into an art form-now comes in response to comments made by General Wesley Clark. . .

The McCain camp, sensing an opportunity, complained that Clark had "attacked John McCain's military service record." Of course, Clark had done nothing of the kind. He had questioned the relevance of McCain's combat experience as a qualification to be president of the United States. This is a distinction that you'd expect any reasonably intelligent nine-year old to be able to grasp.

But many in the press have been unable to. ABC News political director Rick Klein led the outrage, writing in a blog post on ABCNews.com:

"Find me a single Democrat who thinks it's good politics to call into question the military credentials of a man who spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war."

This is the perfect embodiment of the press's unbelievably destructive habit of assessing every piece of campaign rhetoric for its political acuity, rather than for its validity and accuracy. Clark's comments may (or may not) have been impolitic. But that has no bearing on their validity or lack thereof-which is how the news media should be evaluating them. . .

Klein wasn't alone, of course. NBC's First Read, written by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenic Montanaro, noted that "American politics can't quite get beyond this question: Just how big a military hero were you?" before summarizing Clark's comments-as if Clark was questioning McCain's claim to military heroism, rather than pointing out that that heroism isn't a qualification for president. Like Klein, the NBC team couldn't resist playing political consultants, pronouncing that Clark's comments "weren't helpful at all to the Obama campaign," without bothering to consider whether Clark's argument might make sense.

Gerald Seib and Sara Murray of The Wall Street Journal arguably do even worse. They write: "The one certainty of the 2008 campaign, it might have seemed, was that Sen. John McCain would be acknowledged all around as a war hero for his service in Vietnam-but apparently not." Did Seib and Murray even read what Clark said? Where did Clark say anything about McCain not being a war hero?

And in a piece headlined "Clark Hits McCain's Military Credentials", Josh Kraushaar of The Politico says that Clark "invoked McCain's military service against him. . . ." Huh? By this bizarre standard, if Clark were to point out that my record of writing for Columbia Journalism Review is not a qualification to be president, he would have invoked my writing for CJR against me.


At July 1, 2008 3:50 PM, Anonymous McCain mutiny said...

More pertinent is John McCain's extensive collaboration with the enemy which is easily verifiable, all you have to do is open your mind and eyes, then search.


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