In Race Debate, Media Point Finger at McCain

And I thought David Shuster was in the tank . . .

Thank you, Andrea Mitchell.  No, really, I mean it.  Thank you for providing some of the clearest evidence yet of just how much the press corps following Barack Obama has blinders on for its man.  Mitchell has let it be known that "the people covering the campaign" don't think Obama played the race card with his currency crack. Andrea appeared on Morning Joe today just before 8 AM EDT.

ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure --

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Andrea, excuse me for a minute. How can it be self-deprecating when he says, when Barack Obama says, that John McCain's camp is going to say "I look different"? Or when he says they're going to try to scare you because I'm black. How is that--because I've heard "self-deprecating" a couple times--how in the hell is that self-deprecating?

View video here.

Answering Joe's pointed question, Mitchell pointed the accusing finger at John McCain.

MITCHELL: He's been; it's obviously an attempt, Joe, as you point out, to inoculate against attacks to come, so, yeah, that is the point. But he's been saying that all along; that is not something new in this campaign. But all of a sudden you've got the combination of the negative ads that have come one after another, the ads about the failure to visit the troops, the ads about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and then Rick Davis saying they're playing the race card, which of course injected race front-and-center into this campaign.

Mitchell's Obam-advocacy was too much even for Mika Brzezinski.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Andrea, don't you think Barack Obama sort of walked into that in bringing that up? Because the McCain campaign has not played the race card, has not injected the color of his skin into this campaign. If there are fringe organizations that are doing things like that, as far as I know unless I've missed something in the coverage, [the McCain people] haven't done that and it seems to me it would be incredibly stupid for them to do that. In her answer, it seemed as if Mitchell misinterpreted Mika as saying it was the Obama campaign that has chosen to avoid the race issue.

MITCHELL: In fact he has put out the word to all of his people that he doesn't want race--throughout the primaries and throughout all of this season, he has run away from the race issue, because the last thing that they want to do is remind everyone, I mean, it doesn't need reminding, just looking at the candidate, but they don't want race to become the central issue. Especially not in the areas where he is obviously having the most difficulty getting support.

Say what? The race of a potential Dem candidate was never an issue in the GOP primary. So when Mitchell refers to "the primaries" and "the areas where he is obviously having the most difficulty getting support," Mitchell clearly seems to be referring to Obama. But Mika had made the point that it was McCain who had put out the word not to invoke race. This seems a Freudian slip showing just how much Mitchell wants to interpret facts to Obama's advantage. She continued . . .

MITCHELL: But I do think [Rick Davis's statement] was a little over the top yesterday, and you heard some of the exchange [in which Mitchell hammered Davis at length; video via Hot Air]. The full exchange was pretty heated, where Rick Davis just went on and pounded away at it, and there are a lot of other things going on.

TIKI BARBER: This is Tiki, Andrea. Does he have a point, does he have an argument: Rick Davis?

MITCHELL: Well, it's all in the eye of the beholder, Tiki. I gotta tell you that most people covering, the people covering the campaign certainly didn't see it that way. And the Obama people deny it strongly.  The McCain people feel just as strongly.  John McCain reaffirmed personally that he agrees with Rick Davis.

Definition of a tough job: trying to distinguish between "the people covering the campaign" and "the Obama people."

Note: At Hot Air, Allahpundit documents that Andrea's blanket statement, "the people covering the campaign" don't think he's playing the race card, is simply false.

CNN John McCain Barack Obama race debateUpdate 10:05 | Matthew Sheffield. Mitchell must know whereof she speaks.  It was eminently clear where CNN's Wolf Blitzer stood on the matter on yesterday's "Situation Room."

"It doesn't get more poisonous or explosive than to inject this whole issue of race, especially when you have obviously the first African-American on a major ticket. So what's the strategy behind the McCain campaign right now?" he wondered.

Blitzer was far from the only person at CNN accusing McCain and his campaign of inserting race into the campaign, however. Throughout several different segments, he and his correspondents discussed the entire controversy as if it was merely a McCain tactic, not once addressing the actual charge of whether Obama has indeed been subtlely implying the Arizona senator is playing on racial fears.

The Obama campaign for its part explicitly denied is candidate was accusing McCain of racial rhetoric. And why should it when the media can finish its argument? Later on in the segment, Blitzer's colleague Dana Bash did the job, accusing McCain of injecting race into the campaign simply by leveling the accusation against the Illinois senator:

"[P]erhaps by going after them and by actually talking about this in such an explosive way that, in fact, the McCain campaign, they're the one injecting race in this."

Full transcript below:

WOLF BLITZER: Right now, John McCain's campaign is accusing Barack Obama of a politically poisonous act: playing the race card. It stems from something Senator Obama said yesterday in Missouri. He said he represents change from reckless Republican policies and that McCain wants to continue those policies. But then Senator Obama also said this...

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): So what they're saying is, well, we know we're not very good, but you can't risk electing Obama. You know, he's new. He's -- he doesn't look like the other presidents on the currency.

He -- you know, he's got a -- he's got a funny name. I mean, that's basically the argument, he's too risky.

BLITZER: The McCain campaign now pouncing. The campaign manager, Rick Davis, calling that comment from Senator Obama shameful, adding -- and I'm quoting now -- "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck."

Let's bring in Dana Bash. She's covering the McCain campaign. And Suzanne Malveaux, she's covering the Obama campaign for us. [...]

BASH: Now Wolf, he's saying let the American people judge, but the reality is John McCain's campaign was extremely aggressive, first of all, about getting the statement out this morning that they think Barack Obama is playing the race card, but also calling those of us who cover John McCain and trying to explain why they're doing this. And they say that Barack Obama, not once like we played earlier, but three times yesterday said that John McCain and Republicans were trying to scare people about Obama and saying that he's risky because he looks different than other presidents on dollar bills.

Steve Schmidt, who is John McCain's senior adviser, he told me that that is a smear and a disgusting accusation about McCain. That's why they felt politically they wanted to push this.

BLITZER: Very strong words.

So how is the Obama campaign, Suzanne, reacting?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Well, the Obama campaign believes that this is a winning issue. They've actually launched a Web site. They're going back and forth. But Bill Burton, the spokesperson, early today releasing a statement saying, "This is a race about big challenges, a slumping economy, a broken foreign policy, an energy crisis for everyone, but the oil companies..." -- and he goes on to say, "Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe that they're using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign. Those are the issues he'll continue to talk about."

I just got off a conference call with campaign manager David Plouffe and other reporters, and essentially they're saying, look, we're going to hit back, we're going to hit back hard. They believe that they are aggressive tactics.

They're launching this Web site. It's called lowroadexpress.com. And they essentially say that for every kind of accusation or misinformation from the McCain campaign, they are going to answer in kind.

BLITZER: Because it doesn't get more poisonous or explosive than to inject this whole issue of race, especially when you have obviously the first African-American on a major ticket. So what's the strategy behind the McCain campaign right now?

BASH: Well, this is part of a broader strategy that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, Wolf. As you know, to be much, much more aggressive in going after Barack Obama, but not just that -- in talking about things that they think will benefit them politically.

And what I'm told by the McCain campaign is that the reality is they know that Barack Obama has made these statements before, even going back to the Democratic primary. But they are hearing some of the things like what Suzanne was saying, some of the suggestions like what you just made, that perhaps by going after them and by actually talking about this in such an explosive way that, in fact, the McCain campaign, they're the one injecting race in this.

I asked, again, Steve Schmidt about that. He said, "We didn't inject it. He injected it by saying the things he did yesterday."

BLITZER: Because they also make the point, Suzanne, the McCain people, that you know what? The Obama campaign used this race card, they allege, against the Clintons, especially Bill Clinton. They made it sound during the primaries that Bill Clinton was a racist, using the racial issue to try to undermine Senator Obama.

And they say, you know what? We're not going to fall into that trap. If they even imply in the most modest way that Senator McCain is using race as an issue, they're going to pounce with all their power. 
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Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.