CBS Lectures McCain for Lowering Tone, Agrees His Hilton Ad 'Stupid'

The CBS Evening News on Wednesday night delivered a campaign story that was little more than a recitation of John McCain's supposed misdeeds in lowering the tone of the campaign as reporter Dean Reynolds criticized McCain for spending “three times as long chatting” with a college football team “as he did talking issues to workers at a cabinet-making company,” took at shot at his access to journalists -- “the man who rides the Straight Talk Express took no questions from reporters” (as if Barack Obama takes questions every day) -- before highlighting how “McCain's own mother” said using Paris Hilton to insult Obama in an ad “was, quote, 'kind of stupid.” Running a clip from Paris Hilton's mock ad in which she describes McCain as “that wrinkly white-haired guy,” Reynolds decided: “And now it appears mother knows best.”

Earlier in the story, Reynolds recounted how a new CBS News poll found “seven out of ten” believe “the candidates are not addressing the issues that matter most to them. And that may be because they're hearing as much or more about persona as policies.” After one clip of Obama attacking McCain, Reynolds lectured:
McCain's campaign has been playing offense much more aggressively than Obama and emphasizing style a bit more than ever over substance. Today at Marshall University, for example, McCain spent three times as long chatting with the Thundering Herd football team as he did talking issues to workers at a cabinet-making company. The man who rides the Straight Talk Express took no questions from reporters. Some Republicans wonder about the new approach. McCain's own mother said using Paris Hilton in this controversial ad to insult Obama was, quote, "kind of stupid."
Anchor Katie Couric led Wednesday's newscast with the CBS News poll which put Obama up 45 to 39 percent over McCain, the identical result as the same survey a month earlier, so she stretched to find a new angle:
A new CBS News poll of registered voters is just out tonight, and it shows the Senator from Illinois ahead by six points, the same lead he had a month ago. But there is a big change in the poll, a swing towards Senator Obama by a key group of voters. We'll have more about that in a moment.
Following the piece from Reynolds, Couric turned to Jeff Greenfield to explain the “big change” he discovered in the poll:
If you define white working class by income, making less than $50,000 a year, Obama leads McCain by 12 points. But if you define them by education, those with less than a college degree, McCain leads by five points.
PDF of the poll results.

The “Paris Hilton 2008” video ad created by the FunnyOrDie.com comedy video site. As embedded on NewsBusters.

Only CBS on Wednesday night ran a story on the day's campaign events. The NBC Nightly News didn't touch the campaign and ABC's World News aired a piece on how potential vice presidential candidates are trying campaign for the selection without harming their chances.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript from the top of the Wednesday, August 6 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: Tonight, a new CBS News poll finds key voters are moving from Senator McCain to Senator Obama. Who are they and why the change? And now suddenly, there's a new player in the campaign.

PARIS HILTON IN MOCK TV AD: So thanks for the endorsement, white-haired, dude.
....

COURIC: Good evening, everyone. 90 days now till America elects a new President, and Democrat Barack Obama is holding on to a small lead over Republican John McCain. A new CBS News poll of registered voters is just out tonight, and it shows the Senator from Illinois ahead by six points, the same lead he had a month ago. But there is a big change in the poll, a swing towards Senator Obama by a key group of voters. We'll have more about that in a moment. But first, Dean Reynolds begins tonight's campaign '08 coverage.

DEAN REYNOLDS: With John McCain increasingly on offense and Barack Obama more and more on defense, the two candidates appear to be fighting each other to a standstill in their attempts to brand the other guy as the wrong choice. While our poll says registered voters want the candidates focusing more on domestic issues than foreign affairs-

JOHN MCCAIN: It's time to get America's economy moving again.

BARACK OBAMA: I think I laid out a plan for ending the age of oil in our time.

REYNOLDS: -seven out of 10 of them say the candidates are not addressing the issues that matter most to them. And that may be because they're hearing as much or more about persona as policies.

OBAMA TV AD: The original maverick or just more of the same?

REYNOLDS: As for McCain, he's making a determined effort to turn Obama's popularity and enhanced world status into laugh lines.

CHARLTON HESTON AS MOSES IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: Behold his mighty hands!

REYNOLDS: McCain's campaign has been playing offense much more aggressively than Obama and emphasizing style a bit more than ever over substance.

MCCAIN: And when we didn't act as a team, they broke us down.

REYNOLDS: Today at Marshall University, for example, McCain spent three times as long chatting with the Thundering Herd football team as he did talking issues to workers at a cabinet-making company. The man who rides the Straight Talk Express took no questions from reporters. Some Republicans wonder about the new approach. McCain's own mother said using Paris Hilton in this controversial ad to insult Obama was, quote, "kind of stupid."

ANNOUNCER IN MOCK TV AD: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.

REYNOLDS: And now it appears mother knows best.

ANNOUNCER IN MOCK AD: He's the oldest celebrity in the world. Like, super old. But is he ready to lead?

REYNOLDS: This is Paris Hilton's response to McCain on the Internet.

PARIS HILTON IN THE MOCK TV AD CLIP #1: That wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I'm running for President.

HILTON CLIP #2: Okay, so here's my energy policy. Why don't we do a hybrid of both candidates' ideas.

HILTON CLIP #3: Energy crisis solved. I'll see you at the debates, [word “bitches” bleeped].

REYNOLDS: Well, the McCain campaign said, and I think this was tongue in cheek, that the Paris Hilton idea of taking suggestions from both candidates proves that her energy plan is better than Barack Obama's. Katie?

COURIC: It keeps getting weirder and weirder. Dean Reynolds. Thank you, Dean. Jeff Greenfield is our senior political correspondent. And, Jeff, getting back to our new poll, it shows that Barack Obama is doing better among working class whites, but you've noticed a very interesting split in this group.

GREENFIELD: It depends on how you define them. If you define white working class by income, making less than $50,000 a year, Obama leads McCain by 12 points. But if you define them by education, those with less than a college degree, McCain leads by five points. And Republicans over the years have done very well with working class voters in talking about culture and values rather than economics. Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry all suffered among these groups, and there's every indication the McCain campaign means to make that appeal to working class voters this time.

COURIC: Because those candidates were portrayed as, kind of, "It's them against us and they don't understand our problems."

GREENFIELD: Right, exactly.

COURIC: Is that why the McCain campaign continues to use the celebrity moniker to describe Barack Obama?

GREENFIELD: Oh, I think there's no doubt about it. These celebrities not only are richer. They lead more privileged lives. They think they're better than we are. Many celebrities are prominent liberals, and I think that's exactly the intention of that, to say Barack Obama thinks he's better than you are. I think that's very much the undertone of what they're doing.

COURIC: All right, Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, thanks very much.

GREENFIELD: You bet.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center