The Corner

The Media Protection Racket

From First Read:

One other thing: The pushback on the [Washington Post story on McCain’s temper] was bizarre for another reason. It may have been a story that was somewhat ignored in the runup to Pennsylvania and, frankly, the premise wasn’t all that new. In fact, McCain has become very adept at answering this question. But the Salter response was so brutal, it almost dares folks to find stories on McCain’s temper — something we’re guessing most of the press corps wasn’t all that interested in pursuing.

(The reference is to McCain aide Mark Salter’s email to me.) NPR’s news blog quotes First Read and adds, “Daring the media to find stories is a bad idea. (Just ask former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart.)”

If what Salter said about the way the Post treated him is true–and I have no reason to doubt that it is–then what he said wasn’t “brutal” at all. People should be able to push back against unfair or grossly biased press criticism without the press treating their response as a license for more attacks.  If there’s a real story about McCain’s temper, it ought to be pursued regardless of Salter’s comments. If there isn’t, his comments don’t justify pretending that there is. I don’t see why reporters should act out of any sense of solidarity with the Post, or out of some guild interest in not having shoddy work called out for what it is.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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