MCCAIN AND THE PRESS.

John McCain made a speech to the annual meeting of the Associated Press this morning in Washington, D.C., in which he attempted to balance affection and admonition for reporters. I found the whole thing pretty humorous, especially since he's a guy known for being generally chummy with the media, but who has also turned his temper against them when they dare actually try to do their job rather than cozy up to the candidate:

Running campaigns under the frequent if not constant scrutiny of the press can be challenging. And there have been days when I wished you had been somewhere else when I made comments that were interpreted in ways I didn't intend and took on a longer life than I would have preferred. Occasionally, the penalties a candidate suffers by granting widespread access can reinforce a campaign's natural tendencies to avoid risk and closely control its message. There have been times when my enthusiasm in arguing a point and my glibness have had an effect that caused me to appreciate the qualities of tight message discipline and my staff to become distraught because I answered a question simply because I was asked. I confess also that on occasion, perhaps many occasions, I have felt reporters' questions, their redundancy and sometimes adversarial quality, were intended more at producing candidate fatigue and, consequently, mistakes than the enlightenment of your readers.

These aren't trivial worries, and they do tend to support arguments for a more careful approach to talking to you. I want to win this election as do my opponents, and Americans have always taken the view that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Thus, campaigns naturally look suspiciously at the more circuitous route to success that wends and sometimes loses its way through the obstacle course of the candidate's exchanges with the press. But I've become rather accustomed to it.

The speech overall is more laudatory of the press, but it's funny to see McCain trying to balance praise and condemnation for a group of folks who have the capacity to make or break his campaign.

--Kate Sheppard

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