John McCain News Hunt Update
If you have noticed a recent surge in folks reviewing and submitting stories on NewsTrust, it's because of our partnership with Huffington Post’s Off the Bus -- this week, we're going on a News Hunt for good journalism about John McCain. HuffPo readers have been signing up in droves, especially after Arianna Huffington wrote about it in her blog on Monday. UPDATE: HERE ARE THE FIRST RESULTS OF OUR NEWS HUNT, AS WELL AS THE FULL LISTING OF REVIEWED STORIES, FROM JUNE 2 TO JUNE 9.
In less than forty-eight hours we've already written close to six hundred reviews of McCain news-related articles. Welcome, new members! Special thanks goes out to the nine OffTheBus members Paul Peete, Harv Roth, Cat Bemis, Andrew Spencer, Ardent Hollingsworth, Andrew Urban, Randy Morrow Pamela Rogers, and Sandy Stone, who each reviewed more than ten stories. We now even have our own blog over at Huffington Post. You can read my first post here and throughout the week Kaizar and I will be posting updates along with Amanda Michel, Off the Bus's fearless leader, with whom it has been a joy to work.
In her invitation to review McCain stories on NewsTrust, Arianna noted, "The more stories you review, the more clear-eyed our look at the way the media are covering McCain will be." Even as the media has focused on the last Democratic primaries and the implications of Hillary Clinton's continued run, this has been a good time to start a look at Mr. McCain.
If you take a look at the top picks on our John McCain News Hunt Results Page, you will see some trends. First, media attention is starting to focus on McCain’s divergence from his image as a reformer. Our top-rated mainstream media piece, McCain Campaign Calls; A Nonprofit Steps In by the Washington Post’s Robert O'Harrow Jr., looks at how McCain’s top veteran affairs advisor also serves on the board of directors for Citizens Against Government Waste; this organization partnered with Northrop to produce "a vitriolic advertising campaign" defending a defense contract that McCain favored -- a contract which had been drawing heat from Democrats and labor. As Derek Hawkins noted, "What a breath of fresh air it is to see a campaign article with some substance! Amid the daily exchange of fire between the Clinton and Obama camps, this stands out. And it should, because it seems the nuances of McCain's supporters and the senator's relationship with them are coming into the light. I'm surprised Robert O'Harrow Jr. didn't mention the Reform Institute, a nonprofit McCain co-founded. Billed as an independent think tank for influence-free government, the Reform Institute is stacked with former McCain staffers and campaign managers. Ken Silverstein wrote about it in last month's Harper's, calling it "the public-relations arm of his political machine." Now that primary season is over maybe we'll see more of this level of scrutiny for the other campaigns."
Another case in point is Foreclosure Phil by David Corn in Mother Jones, which reports on McCain advisor Phil Graham’s anti-regulatory campaign and its contribution to the mortgage meltdown. One of our newer members, Nicholas Bentley, adds his insight, "A story on former Sen. Phil Gramm and how his 'Commodity Futures Modernization Act' was the key that freed up the Subprime market and led to a global economic meltdown. It goes on to ask if Gramm is the ideal candidate to advise McCain on economics and potentially become Treasury Secretary. The really troubling sub-story for me was how bills such as this can pass through both houses without anyone, including Gramm it appears, understanding what is going on or having any idea of the consequences. There should be more reporting on this side of the story."
Also on this topic, take a look at 2 Senators for McCain Leave Group After Ads by New York Times reporter Michael Luo recounts Lieberman and Graham’s roles on the policy advisory board of a 527 group, Vets for Freedom. Harv Roth from Off the Bus, writes, " Not to embarrass John McCain Esquires Lieberman and Graham have fled from their designated honorary positions as Vets for Freedom. Somewhat reminiscent of the Swiftboat group in 2004. Something tells me things are bout to get dirty. 1t is a short article and it gets the information out there. It is going to be a long five months."
Another issue has been McCain’s support of the war in Iraq. Washington Post’s Michael Dobbs wrote about McCain's mistaken allegation that the troops had decreased to pre-surge levels in McCain, the Surge, and 'verb tenses', about which Paul Peete of Off the Bus commented, "Like Newstrust is to articles, The Fact Checker is holding the candidates to higher standards in their speeches and campaign statements."
Frank Rich saw McCain's position on Iraq as McCain's McClellan Nightmare. Interestingly, in The National Security Debate, Robert McMahon of the Council on Foreign Relations, finds that "some foreign policy analysts assert there is unlikely to be a dramatic shift in Washington's national security positions regardless of which major candidate wins."
Another emerging story on the the topic of foreign policy concerned John McCain June 2 speech at the powerful pro-Israel
lobby group AIPAC identifying Iran as what he saw as a major problem.
Who Is John McCain?, by Michael Tomasky at the New York Review of
Books, looks at McCain’s rhetoric of Iran as a "rogue state." This is particularly of interest, since while in 2000 George Bush espoused a humble foreign policy, John McCain was advocating "rogue state rollbacks," as I noted back in February in a blog post, "So where does McCain stand on the issues?, which contains links to the website "On the Issues" which catalogs where McCain stands versus the other candidates. Interestingly, despite McCain’s efforts to paint Obama as naïve for his willingness to engage enemies in conversation, Foon Rhee at the Boston Globe reports in Americans favor talks with enemies, poll says that the
most recent Gallup poll found that 67 percent of Americans support the president meeting with leaders of countries considered US enemies; 79 percent of Democrats think so, as do 70 percent of independents and slightly less than half of Republicans.
These are just some of the stories and issues we've uncovered so far our John McCain News Hunt. We look forward to working with all to see what the media is reporting (and what it isn't), so that we can learn more about John McCain's character, his views, his campaign and his background -- and make more informed decisions as citizens.