Further review of Rainey's piece shows that the examples he highlights of supposedly equal and fawning treatment of John McCain and Barack Obama is not so equal.
In fact, so ridiculous are the comparisons, I thought for a moment the joke was on me--that Rainey's piece was a send-up of local media, a SNL-style parody.
But there's no joke here. That is, none that were intentional.
Famine for media's big names became a small feast for the likes of local newspapers such as the Black Hills Pioneer, which recently offered an uncritical account of McCain’s appearance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the giant annual event in South Dakota.
In the weekly paper's story, McCain's bus was "famed" and his support of veterans [sic] benefits went unchallenged (though the story did mention opponents' rally on the issue).
Can anyone imagine a critical account of a candidate's visit to a motorcycle rally? Perhaps this: "McCain after all didn't seem to have worn a leather jacket at the rally. Horrors!"
And what more could the reporter have done than to report in--as we wish his cohorts in the big-time, national, MSM would do--a 'just the facts please, ma'am' style? Poor Tom Lawrence of the Black Hills Pioneer mentioned the 'opponents's rally.' What more would Rainey have him do?
Barack Obama may be a rock star, but at least John McCain's bus is "famed."
This wasn't the only "free pass" offered John McCain last week by weak local media. Example #2:
In Philadelphia, an account by Fox 29 News offered McCain an even friendlier platform. Its reporter recounted the candidate's stop in the suburbs and assured viewers there was "every indication" the Republican would be a "regular visitor" to the area.
The reporter's biggest favor, however, came when he set up a months-old clip of Obama saying that "bitter" rural Pennsylvania voters sometimes turned to guns and religion for solace. Then the reporter asked McCain to tee off.
The Republican wasted no time, surprise, assuring viewers he understood that Americans who supported churches and the 2nd Amendment were not cynical but "decent, good, honest, wonderful people who love their country and cherish the Constitution of the United States."
Saying that John McCain would be a frequent visitor to Pennsylvania--a fairly benign observation, given its status as a battleground state--is what passes for doing the candidate a favor.
As though that weren't enough, Fox News 29 asked McCain about Obama's "bitter" comment. As it was a statement made to Obama supporters in San Francisco about rural Pennsylvanians (among others), one can understand Fox News 29's interest in finding out what McCain had to say about the matter.
The Obama examples? Besides the fact that Rainey provides no links, they don't even compare to the weak ones that supposedly illustrated the cushy ride given to McCain by local press. For the most part, they mirror their fawning MSM compatriots and bring to mind aforementioned SNL skits from earlier this year.
A reporter at WFMJ-TV in Youngstown, Ohio, compared the Democrat's rally appearance to "a champ standing victorious in the political ring" and signed off: "Sen. Obama's run for president has the world witnessing history."
Does this compare to saying McCain's bus is "famed?"
But that's not all:
Not to be outdone, a correspondent for the NBC affiliate in Cleveland seemed almost as thrilled by Obama's stop at a fruit stand as a teenage girl there who told the reporter it was . . . "Crazy!"
A video on the WKYC website shows him using the start of his five-minute interview with Obama to tell the candidate that hislast [sic] two comments at a town hall were "knock-out-of-the-park fantastic for ya."
Obama seemed to enjoy the interview.
Does this match the Fox Philly reporter's observation that, in fact, "there was 'every indication' the Republican would be a 'regular visitor?'"
Of course Obama enjoyed the interview. It's one thing for Fox Philly to ask John McCain about Obama's "bitter" comment and a whole other if they had responded after his answer, as WKYC did to Obama, that his response was "knock-out-of-the-park fantastic for ya."
Rainey's only example of tough candidate treatment by local media was, predictably, of John McCain.
Not all local interviewers are so unctuous. Take Chad Livengood, who encountered McCain at a June rally in Missouri.
The Springfield News-Leader statehouse reporter heard McCain tout his plan for a gas tax holiday, then concede afterward, in another one of those short interviews, that the proposal had very little chance of making it through Congress.
"He was promising it up on the stage, but behind the scenes he was admitting it wouldn't go anywhere," the 25-year-old reporter said.
So Livengood let his readers know about the discrepancy. And his story described how some economists doubted the tax cut would make a significant difference.
Sometimes campaigns dial for dummies and end up reaching sharpies.
(Note: Here again, Rainey links to the McCain example. No Obama links.)
Rainey's report on local media comes against the polling backdrop of a public less and less inclined to believe in the impartiality of the press. This piece in the LAT confirms their suspicions. The wider public can read, as we have done, and see that, indeed, there is a striking difference between how the press responds to McCain versus how it responds to Obama. Rainey's attempts to show equivalence between the two only serve to accentuate the difference and eliminate every last shred of credibility.
Rather than showing that media coverage of the two candidates is fair and even handed, Rainey's examples highlight, once again, the vast gulf that separates the way the press treats McCain and Obama.
Part of me feels bad for Rainey.
After turning on the TV and quickly jotting down the comments of a few Obama groupies (Members of the Press), Rainey then had to search for hours to find a couple of really tenuous McCain examples.
That's hard work.