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McCain Campaign Restricts Press Access

By Michael D. Shear
PITTSBURGH -- Welcome to the new John McCain press strategy.

Avoid them.

McCain today held a 10-minute press conference, complete with podium, microphones for the questioners, network-quality audio and a camera for a local television station, which allowed CNN to carry it live.

And where was the national press corps?

Sitting on the runway 27 miles away, having been ferried to McCain's charter plane, totally unaware that a press availability was about to take place until one of the handful of "pool reporters" sent an e-mail alert.

The reporters frantically fired up their cellular modems and logged on to to catch the end of the press conference, unable to ask any questions. The handful of reporters there asked about the FISA terrorism bill, Iran and about McCain's pledge to balance the budget.

McCain's schedule for Wednesday included a note about a "gaggle" with the pool reporters, but nothing indicated a live press conference. The tactic was a first for the McCain campaign, which
basically shrugged when asked about it.

"He took a couple of questions at the end of the tour from the pool. This will happen occasionally," responded Jill Hazelbaker, the communications director for the campaign.

The Republican presidential nominee has built a reputation for his access to the press, famously inviting the national press corps to gab sessions on the back of his "Straight Talk" bus during the 2000 and 2008 primary campaigns.

National reporters still get some access; in fact, the campaign promises some time with the candidate later today as the campaign bus rambles from West Virginia to Portsmouth, Ohio.

McCain gathered several reporters at the front of the plane while traveling in South America last week.

But that access has been whittled away as McCain became the nominee. The Straight Talk is reserved now as a carrot for local reporters, leaving the national press corps on a charter bus trailing behind.

The new approach may reflect the growing influence of the newly-powerful Steve Schmidt, a top adviser and protege of Bush political guru Karl Rove, who was famous for his desire to control the press's access to his candidate.

Schmidt now has operational control of the day-to-day activities of the campaign and is no doubt responding to criticism about a lack of message discipline by the McCain campaign.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 9, 2008; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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Posted by: Nick | July 19, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

All I have to say is that I'm boycotting Fox News for the rest of my life. They don't deserve the title of a "News" institution.

Anyhow, for those crying/whining about Obama getting coverage and McCain not, COME ON!! Considering that McCain has Fox News drooling all over him, the other News networks have done a very fair job on covering them both! Where the hell have you been?! What news mediums are you watching? Do you live in this country?

Obama is remaining a top contender and McCain is starting to feel the HEAT. The pressure is beginning to mount.

I'm voting for a non-Bush president -- Obama '08.

Posted by: Luis B | July 11, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: James McDouglas | July 10, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

McBush has a private section on his plane where only reporters he agrees with are allowed to sit.

McBush is continuing the same fake news propaganda laden techniques of the Bush admin... the one that got us hit on 911 and then lied us into a fake war with their "gaggle" of PRO-ISRAEL TRAITORS TO AMERICA.



Posted by: James McDouglas | July 10, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he wouldn't be there for the local press if you guys in the national media actually acknowledged that there are two people in this race and cover both candidates. You are all so enamoured with Obama that you cover him if he eats a sandwich and McCain has had absolutely no coverage on most days.

Posted by: flcracker | July 10, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Ageism is stereotyping and prejudice against individuals or groups because of their age.[1] The term was coined in 1969 by US gerontologist Robert N. Butler to describe discrimination against seniors and patterned on sexism and racism.[2]

Butler defined ageism as a combination of three connected elements. These were:

* prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age and the ageing process
* discriminatory practices against older people
* institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

geism is stereotyping and prejudice against individuals or groups because of their age.[1] The term was coined in 1969 by US gerontologist Robert N. Butler to describe discrimination against seniors and patterned on sexism and racism.[2]

Butler defined ageism as a combination of three connected elements. These were:

* prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age and the ageing process
* discriminatory practices against older people
* institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people.

Posted by: EH | July 9, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

The media have overlooked all the false statements from the McCain campaign, while over focusing on Obama.

McCain pushed it too far with his unbelievable false statements about taxes, balancing the budget and his lies about Obama.

He obviously did not want any "real" questions.

McCain has been getting many tough and angry questions at town hall meetings. It is very funny after all the Shaun Hannity types talking about how Obama cannot talk without a script.

Obama does very well in town hall meetings. I cannot wait until he blow McCain away.

Denver Town Hall meeting

"The first question from the audience came from a Vietnam veteran, who challenged McCain's record of supporting health care for veterans. It was followed by this testy exchange, during which McCain fell back on his endorsements from veteran groups:"

"I won't support those articles of impeachment [for President Bush], how can I answer it any more clearly?"

At this point, it got a little chaotic. Boos erupted from the crowd, and some audience members shouted at each other across the room. Eventually, McCain stepped in, saying, "If we all start yelling then it doesn't really get very enjoyable."

He then addressed the questioner, raising his voice a bit as he seemed clearly perturbed:"

"I will not [support the Community Choice Act] because I don't think it's the right kind of legislation. I'm proud to be one of the many people who were involved in the original Americans With Disabilities Act.

Posted by: Jim | July 9, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious....all candidates have done this and I can't blame any of them to a certain extent. The media has a reputation for misquoting..etc.'s definitely in favor of liberals over conservatives....but even Hill got hammered. Obama gets a pass cause he's the golden boy...the messiah.

If it weren't for the fact that people think it's soup line America because of the media...there would be no discussion. If Obama supporters would truly listen to him and be honest with themselves...they'd run. He's backing off on his previous commitments like crazy....

And...I still believe this country is more conservative than liberal. More people think they should be accountable for their lives vs government. More people think they are responsible...and not government.

It's funny how many people you meet in college that are liberal (again...liberals mean well)...but graduate...get a job (and say...holy crap why is the government taking so much), have a kid (and say holy cow...this is a miracle and something from God and to be cherished...not murdered and used as an excuse for a right)...and become....conservative.

Posted by: MakeUsProud | July 9, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I want to know who are those 27 reporters that MCCain knows will foxify the news to suit him. What TV or newspapers are in his pocket. I will avoid them and not believe them.... Reminds me of those attorneys that got to stay because they towed the line. I really want to know who these people are..

Posted by: pat | July 9, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

What is the source for your dismissive remark.

New team new tactics. Another example of new tactics:

Posted by: G8tr | July 9, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

If reporters asked real questions about John McCain, Mccain would be trailing Obama by 60 points instead of 10.

Posted by: Dave from queens | July 9, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

That little old librarian was a reporter.. Get a clue.

Posted by: Grimby | July 9, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

This is a big mistake.

The main thing McCain has going for him is an up til now adoring press corps that brings him donuts - with sprinkles - and revels in easy access. Taking away that access is like getting shut out of the BBQ. Maybe an upset press will be a little more willing to actually question his BS.

Or maybe not.

Posted by: mjshep | July 9, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

He is a 71 year old, extremely angry OLD man! Do you really think your grandparents are fit to be POTUS? NO!
THE MAN IS GOING TO START World War 3 and every person under 35 WILL BE DRAFTED Also, the man can't remember what he says from one day to the next.
LAST WEEK HE CLAIMED THE GI BILL WAS HIS BIG IDEA! HE OPPOSED IT, AS DID BUSH, OF COURSE. Anything at all that is good the American people is automatically banned from Bush's agenda. Unless you make over $2.8 million a year, Bush's tax cuts have cost you a whole lot of money!

Posted by: AndreaD | July 9, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

All the Neocons signs are there for everyone to see from Paranoia to use of Lies, Deception techniques, Fear to meaningless Conservatism to Conditioning to stagging Artifical Media circus where YES YES Men calling themselves journalists are invited.

It is time for those naive emotionally unbalanced citizens who would rather vote for a 71 years old pensioner who spent part of his life as a PoW in Vietnam with no particular success in his 22 years as a senator to realize, it is acceptable to vote for a half Black who happens to be competent, dynamic, still paying his mortgage like you and me and doesnt belong to the top 1% of the population that will put more faith in McCain than Obama because they will have more to lose than gain.

Posted by: Nouri | July 9, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Yep. Karl Rove is now running McCain's campaign. Notice the familiar stench? Rove ran Bush into 23% approval, and he can do the same for Big John!

So-- listen up, Obama folks. Every time anything comes out of the McCain camp, loudly and publicly attribute it to Rove. Got it? Or are you afraid of big, bad Karl?

And while you're at it, press corpse, ask McCain why family values voters should vote for an adulterer like him?

Posted by: Not So Rich | July 9, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

And McCain does not want us to think this is a third Bush term.

This is a change for McCain he used to like to schmooze with the press. Means that he has more money to get his message out and that he loses his bearings when too many people are around. (A sign of Alzheimer's disease) Poor guy needs Graham and Liebermen to follow him around to answer the questions that are to hard for him. That would not look good in a press conference.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 9, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

McCain cannot be trusted to speak to reporters *ie. his joke yesterday about killing Iranians. So they need to keep the press away before he says anything else stupid. Instead lets just talk about him being a hero. That's safe right?

Posted by: Peg | July 9, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Of course the campaign want to keep the press away - all those pesky questions about Iraq wanting the U.S. to leave...those mental gymnastics he will have to do to explain that and its effect on his economic plans, etc, would do him some harm.

Posted by: 2008 | July 9, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, if the press bothered to ask any worthwhile questions perhaps they would be worth listening to.
As long as reporters just act as stenographers then what is the point of having them on hand at all? The papers can just reprint McCain news releases.

Posted by: Justin Tyme | July 9, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Who's running the show. I bet ole Scooter is in there some place. Just right it down on a piece of paper for him, can't be worse then the dumb one we have now.

Posted by: toby | July 9, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I guess they don't want McCain to be McCain anymore. What was the straw that broke the camels back, his comment about sending cigarettes to kill Iranians? I hope this means we can look forward to more thrilling teleprompter readings from Grandpa McSame.

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 9, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Poor reporters. They have to "behave" in order to get access. They have to "conform" to corporate necessity to get published. Hmph. This is some America, right?

And now, not only do we have propaganda for "news" we have a FISA bill that has destroyed the 4th Amendment.

Can you say "collusion" congress?

Can you say "oligarchy"?

Can you say "disgraceful"?

Neither of these politicians deserves the executive branch. Once again, we are voting for the least offensive. hurrah.

Posted by: iH8uAll | July 9, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

McBush is totally and completely unfit for the office of president and how the hell did he EVER get become senator since he's on so many meds? for his sake he better not be drinking a drop of alcohol! His voting record reveals how unsupportive he (& all bush draft dodgers!) he is to our troops who are obligated and are being used to participate i this military folly in the M.E. region. Obama isn't a perfect candidate but compared to the likes of a bush-wannabee in McCain? Obama will suffice for now until we the people make continued demands of our so-called elected reps/ senators to uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Posted by: Unalienable Rights-Monger | July 9, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

That reminds me of the Oct 2007 fake news conference that FEMA staged and then had to apologize for after the California wildfires of that year.
No wonder that little 60 year old librarian held that sign at his recent "open" town hall meeting, he's just like Bush.

Posted by: Eric | July 9, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

PS: To hide his temper and congnative challenges.

Dear American Voters, reporters, media. professionals, political parties, and our hon. Presidential Nominees,

Subject: Presidential Temperament
Please talk about and "Compare And Contrast" the " Presidential Temperament" of our Presidential presumptive nominees. I will also request and plead to the nominees themselves [ Hon. Senator McCain
and Obama ].

Our nation has been applying this yard and stick tor the appointments and confirmation process of our Supreme Court Justices nominees.

Our Greatgrand Nation Foundations are as under:
Family, friends, fellows, faith, funds, fun, with fairness & freedom And without fear, favor, and failure.

It will be disgrace and shameful if the nominees and media will not look into this critical and crucial aspect under current challenging times and circumstances within our country and all around the Globe.

America wake up and the discuss the " Presidential Temperament" of our presumptive presidential nominee's [ Hon. Senator McCain and Obama].

Yours sincerely,

COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret].
Disabled American Veteran
Forensic psychiatrist, Las Vegas, Nevada

Posted by: COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret] | July 9, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Mccain will learn how easy he has been getting it now when they turn on him. They will tear him apart now.

the press and left wing blogs like this one has been in the tank for Obama. I don't blame McCain, I would talk to any of them. Let them keep making up news in favor of Obama.

Posted by: sick of the press | July 9, 2008 1:00 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Typical Repuke strategy. Not respecting questions they fear will not show them favorably or better yet that they know they don't have an answer for. They aren't a bright group so they have to use very sneaky, secretive tactics. They never stand up like real responsible adults and present their plan. They know their policies aren't winning so they use devious means to win. Same old tired Play book. How many times do we have to be subjected to it? Pat Buchanan said McCain will make Cheney look like Ghandi!

Posted by: Brianna | July 9, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama had better start using the carrot/stick approach to the press immediately. It has kept President Bush from impeachment, despite ample grounds, for at least three years.

Combine the evident lapdog love that mainstream reporters currently have for McCain with the negative consequences for serious journalism and we'll get nothing but puff pieces on McCain.

Obama needs to start coining pet names for reporters (like Bush) and pandering to them shamelessly. His election will depend on it.

Posted by: SaltyDawg | July 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

the press and left wing blogs like this one has been in the tank for Obama. I don't blame McCain, I would talk to any of them. Let them keep making up news in favor of Obama.

Posted by: sick of the press | July 9, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Just before a presidential election when Americans need MORE information from the candidate, he takes it away. So much for "straight talk". His campaign is shaping up to look more identical to the Bush administration with every passing day. Americans will deeply regret it if he walks into the White House. Sad. But I still have hope that we learned a hard lesson from the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Posted by: TPH | July 9, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Zogby just released polls from ALL 50 STATES and finds Obama opening up a huge advantage, leading in a number of very red states:

Posted by: Da | July 9, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I bet he doesnt want to comment on the little 60 year old librarian that was ticketed for trespassing and escorted away from his "open" town hall meeting the other day...just for holding a McCain=Bush sign...

This ALL goes along with controlling the media...and squashing free speech and press...

He was accused of screening the reporters questions on his conference calls AND they control which reporters go on the Campaign airplane by saying that the reporter has to "earn" their spot on the plane ( by writing favorable articles about McCain )

This is a manipulation of free speech/press!

Posted by: Rich | July 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It really shows what a bitter small minded vengeful person he is. He is not fit to hole any public office.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Soon we will only here from McCain's spokesmen and handlers. Senator McSenile will just sit there in a daze endlessly repeating, "my friends, my friends, my friends...".

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 9, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Now what's he hiding??

Posted by: HonestAbe | July 9, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Mccain = Nazi if he is allowed to have his way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's one way to stop the gaffe-fountain. Make no comments at all.

Posted by: Susan | July 9, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

You see where the 60 year old woman holding up a sigh that read "Mccain = Bush" that was arrested at a Mccain event? She was outside on public property. So much free speech. Mccain wants to try to control everything. Now he wants to control the news people.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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