Is the New York Times attack on John McCain causing conservatives to start supporting the likely GOP nominee or is this more of an anti-Times thing than anything else?
NewsBusters executive editor Matthew Sheffield is among those discussing the topic in today's edition of the Times:
Operating on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, many conservatives who had long distrusted Mr. McCain on a variety of issues, including his peculiar fondness for talking to reporters for hours on end, rallied to see him at war with a newspaper they revile as a voice of the left. (In fact, Mr. McCain said only that he was “disappointed” with the newspaper, and left the incendiary attacks to his [campaign] surrogates.) [...]
By Friday, the campaign was tracing its jump in fund-raising directly to the article in The Times. “Thank you,” Mr. Schmidt said to a Times reporter on Mr. McCain’s campaign plane as it headed back to Washington from Indianapolis. Then he added to a group of reporters, “There was a lot of outrage across the country on the story, and the campaign has raised a lot of money in the last 24 hours.”
Even those conservatives who did not rush to embrace Mr. McCain said his campaign’s condemnations of The Times might have given him an indirect boost, although some were not yet ready to support Mr. McCain’s campaign.
“I wouldn’t say that this has turned the tables as far as McCain convincing the base to vote for him,” Matthew Sheffield, the executive editor of the conservative media-watchdog site NewsBusters, wrote to a Times reporter in an e-mail message. “However, this was a terrific opportunity to get that dialogue started. The general sentiment seems to be more of a defense of McCain against an unfair attack rather than a positive reaction to his candidacy.”
The White House got into the act on Friday morning when Scott M. Stanzel, a deputy press secretary, responded to a question about whether President Bush supported Mr. McCain by attacking the newspaper instead.
“I think a lot of people here in this building with experience in a couple campaigns have grown accustomed to the fact that during the course of a campaign, seemingly on maybe a monthly basis leading up to the convention, maybe a weekly basis after that, The New York Times does try to drop a bombshell on the Republican nominee,” Mr. Stanzel replied. “And that is something that the Republican nominee has faced in the past, and probably will face in this campaign.”