CNN's Toobin and Bernstein Deride Attacks on the Media

During CNN's Wednesday night coverage of the Republican National Convention, the topic of recent criticisms of the mainstream media came up on more than one occasion with Jeffrey Toobin declaring the accusations "unbecoming" and "ironic" Carl Bernstein claiming the media is always pointed to as the problem "when you're down." In between speeches by former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, Anderson Cooper brought up the attacks on the media which, Cooper noted, is "something we certainly have heard before." CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin responded by proclaiming: "But there is a delicious irony about John McCain attacking the media. There is no politician in recent American history who has gotten better, more adoring press coverage than John McCain throughout his career." After noting that Senator John McCain used to call the media his "base," Toobin went into attack mode against McCain and the Republican Party for their "unbecoming" attacks against the media:

Now, suddenly, he thinks the news media has turned on him because the news media doesn't like him anymore? No. I think the news media is doing its job. And I think it's really ironic and rather unbecoming of this party to say that the news media, which has given John McCain all this love over the years, suddenly is incompetent and biased against him.

Later, after the conclusion of Huckabee's speech, CNN contributor Carl Bernstein lashed out at attacks against the media, declaring that the media "is always the problem when you're down":

And we're seeing these old, familiar enemies, these appeals to the old base that doesn't like liberalism that thinks the media is the problem. You know, Hillary Clinton said the media was the problem. We're always the problem when you're down.

Relevant portions of the transcript follow:

ANDERSON COOPER: It is true, Jeff Toobin, that many of the themes that we have heard tonight -- I mean it's -- the use of the liberal, you know, term, it's certainly something that harkens back to races of the past and also the whole attack on the media narrative, which has been developing throughout this day, is something we certainly have heard before. George H.W. Bush used it many years ago.JEFFREY TOOBIN: Absolutely. In the last days of the '92 campaign, he would say, "Annoy the media, vote Bush." But there is a delicious irony about John McCain attacking the media. There is no politician in recent American history who has gotten better, more adoring press coverage than John McCain throughout his career.I remember in 2004, when the convention was here in New York, he held a big lunch for all his friends in the news media. He used to joke about it. He called the news media his base. Now, suddenly, he thinks the news media has turned on him because the news media doesn't like him anymore? No. I think the news media is doing its job. And I think it's really ironic and rather unbecoming of this party to say that the news media, which has given John McCain all this love over the years, suddenly is incompetent and biased against him.[…]GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think there's kind of a mixed message here, as Alex was talking about because last night, we heard about the bipartisan John McCain from Joe Lieberman, the John McCain who can reach out to independent voters, who can work across the aisle to get things done in Washington. Tonight, it's anti- Washington. It's anti-liberal. It's anti-media. Almost takes you back to the Spiro Agnew days of the nattering nabobs or whatever it was. So it's a little mixed message here.COOPER: Carl Bernstein, do you believe the message is mixed?CARL BERNSTEIN: I don't think it's mixed and last night it was the same. It was about the media. It was about liberals. It was about the angry left, as George Bush referred to it. Look, the real news of this campaign is that John McCain, once the most independent of Republicans, has now embraced the Republican right and its message and its ideology as the way to get to the White House. Why did he do that? John King has shown us why. Because toward the last night of the Democratic convention, he and his advisers looked at the map and saw they were losing.So as Leslie Sanchez here next to me has said, you don't pick Sarah Palin unless you're outside the margins of error for victory. That's what we're seeing. And we're seeing these old, familiar enemies, these appeals to the old base that doesn't like liberalism that thinks the media is the problem. You know, Hillary Clinton said the media was the problem. We're always the problem when you're down.COOPER: Alex Castellanos, I see you shaking your head.CASTELLANOS: I'll take exception with what Carl is saying. You don't do it that way. You don't abandon your base to grow. Ronald Reagan didn't do that. Ronald Reagan was as conservative as anybody here tonight on a lot of things. But what he did, he added something to the Republican Party, tax cuts, growths, optimism, American can do and be anything in the world. Along comes George Bush. He added something to that, compassionate conservatism. It's not only morally right. It's not only economically better. Guess what? It works better and helps more people. You now, we've got to get back, I think, to that. Shrinking to it is one thing.