In some of the strongest criticism of the media yet during this campaign, John McCain's senior adviser Steve Schmidt on Monday blasted the New York Times for being an advocate for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In a scathing attack, Schmidt said the Times had "cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition to advocate for the defeat of one candidate, in this case John McCain, and advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama."
During a press conference call, after CNN's Dana Bash asked campaign manager Rick Davis about a Times article accusing him of getting paid for doing advocacy work that benefitted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Schmidt jumped in to absolutely lambaste the Gray Lady for its clearly biased reporting during this election cycle (audio available here, picture courtesy New York Times/AP):
Let's be clear and be honest with one another about something fundamental to this race which is this, is that whatever the New York Times once was, it is today a, not by any standard a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Sen. McCain, attacks Gov. Palin, and excuses Sen. Obama. There's no level of public vetting with regard to Sen. Obama's record, his background, his past statements. There's no level of outrage directed at his deceitful ads. This is an organization that is completely, totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate which is their prerogative to be, but let's not be dishonest, and, and call it something other than it is. Everything that is read in the New York Times that attacks this campaign should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective that it is an organization that has made a decision to cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition to advocate for the defeat of one candidate, in this case John McCain, and advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.
Hours later, the Times executive editor Bill Keller hysterically responded (via Politico):
"The New York Times is committed to covering the candidates fully, fairly and aggressively. It's our job to ask hard questions, fact-check their statements and their advertising, examine their programs, positions, biographies and advisors. Candidates and their campaign operatives are not always comfortable with that level of scrutiny, but it's what our readers expect and deserve."
The only thing missing in this punch line was a thunderous rimshot so that those not getting the joke would know when to laugh.