I’m hanging in the lobby of our hotel in Fayetteville with Biggest Guy, we’re both surfing the web and he brings up the video of McCain and the NYT reporter Elisabeth Bumiller. We watched it and I asked him what he thought – he enjoyed it, and thought it made McCain look good. Shockingly, I kind of agreed. I’ve mentioned the incident where Giscard d’Estaing blew off a reporter who asked him about his illegitimate daughter – at the time, I was focused on politicians erecting a wall around their private lives. Looking at the McCain video, I realize that a big part of it was a politician stepping out of the role of sniffing the rear of the press to try and ensure a good relationship and, hopefully, good coverage. Via Memorandum, I also see Glenn Greenwald making the same point from the other side – about the way that the US press is a willing partner in the coverage tango, citing Tucker Carlson interviewing the reporter for the Scotsman whose interview tubed Samantha Power.
Here’s the quote (but go over and read Greenwald’s commentary as well):
CARLSON: What — she wanted it off the record. Typically, the arrangement is if someone you’re interviewing wants a quote off the record, you give it to them off the record. Why didn’t you do that?
PEEV: Are you really that acquiescent in the United States? In the United Kingdom, journalists believe that on or off the record is a principle that’s decided ahead of the interview. If a figure in public life.
PEEV: Someone who’s ostensibly going to be an advisor to the man who could be the most powerful politician in the world, if she makes a comment and decides it’s a bit too controversial and wants to withdraw it immediately after, unfortunately if the interview is on the record, it has to go ahead.
CARLSON: Right. Well, it’s a little.
PEEV: I didn’t set out in any way, shape.
CARLSON: Right. But I mean, since journalistic standards in Great Britain are so much dramatically lower than they are here, it’s a little much being lectured on journalistic ethics by a reporter from the “Scotsman,” but I wonder if you could just explain what you think the effect is on the relationship between the press and the powerful. People don’t talk to you when you go out of your way to hurt them as you did in this piece.
Don’t you think that hurts the rest of us in our effort to get to the truth from the principals in these campaigns?
PEEV: If this is the first time that candid remarks have been published about what one campaign team thinks of the other candidate, then I would argue that your journalists aren’t doing a very good job of getting to the truth. Now I did not go out of my way in any way, shape or form to hurt Miss Power. I believe she’s an intelligent and perfectly affable woman. In fact, she’s — she is incredibly intelligent so she — who knows she may have known what she was doing.
She regretted it. She probably acted with integrity. It’s not for me to decide one way or the other whether she did the right thing. But I did not go out and try to end her career.
See also Powerline’s dismissal of Power and the contentious interview with the BBC. I’m still digesting, and not sure I 100% agree re Power – but that’s real interviewing, not setting someone up for a puff – or hit – piece.