Surprise! McCain BBQ attendees skew their reporting of him

For starters, a hat tip to Daily Kos community member Jay Ackroyd for pulling together a list of those corporate media talking meatsticks who attended John W. McCain’s BBQ lovefest at the beginning of March.  I’ve put that list at the end of the diary, so we can all keep tabs on this.

In looking over some of these attendees’ recent reports, columns and newscasts, there has been identifiable bias towards John W. McCain, and should be called out on their misleading behavior and irresponsible journalism.  There are over 25 on this list, but I’ll point out a few of the offenders here.  Needless to say, we are not just fighting against McCain, we are fighting against the media, who is already pointing out that since they stopped reporting on Iraq, people’s opinions about it have improved.

To be fair, I did find a critical article written by the AP’s Libby Quaid about his temper, but this was pretty much the exception.

As pointed out by Media Matters, CNN’s Dana Bash (an attendee of the McCain BBQ) misled viewers about McCain and his trips to Iraq in her segment earlier this week:

Reporting about John McCain’s upcoming trip to Iraq, CNN’s Dana Bash read from a statement in which McCain said: “Had I not traveled to Iraq, I doubt I would have been informed enough to understand what we were doing wrong and what we should do to correct our mistakes.” But Bash and host Wolf Blitzer did not report that just before and during a previous fact-finding trip to Iraq, McCain made claims about the safety of Baghdad neighborhoods that were widely criticized as misleading and that McCain later admitted he had “missp[oken].”

Michael Shear from the Washington Post has written a few articles since the BBQ, nothing overly glowing, but certainly fluff stories and downplaying the Democratic criticism.  Another to keep an eye on.

On the other hand, Newsweek’s Holly Bailey shares her “dear diary-like” post about her experience at the BBQ, describing what he wore, how he “gushed” at a mother bird teaching her baby to fly and what he had in his living room, closing with this statement:

McCain’s living room is decorated with historic Navajo rugs-“Worth a lot of money,” he said-and other Southwest-themed art, including a massive watercolor of the Grand Canyon that sits above his fireplace. A mechanical telescope sits in one corner of the room, while pictures of his family and awards McCain has received over the years decorate mantels and tabletops. His bookshelf includes tomes by Henry Kissinger, a biography of Jesse Ventura and Sen. Jim Webb’s book, “The Emperor’s General.”

On the back porch McCain talked at length about the Zen he gets from grilling. “Nothing makes me happier,” he said. “I have a lot of nervous energy … It keeps me moving.” A few minutes later it was reporters who were moving, ushered back to buses by campaign aides. “We’ll have to do this again,” McCain called, waving. “See you tomorrow!”

In her next article, she described him as “the underdog”.  And as some have noted in the comments, she is the one who is swinging in the tire in the video posted by McCain’s daughter.

USA Today’s David Jackson has been awfully kind to McCain as well, especially since the BBQ with mainly fluff pieces, including this one about receiving Bush’s endorsement, telling how Mr. 32%’s endorsement could be a positive because it will help McCain shore up his base.

MSNBC’s Adam Aigner excused McCain’s campaign finance law breaking and gave him a pass on the “100 years in Iraq, no, I really mean it will be over soon” comments the week of the BBQ.  He also defended McCain in the Boeing contract issue, and used the NYC recruitment center bombing incident as an excuse to praise McCain on a number of issues that had nothing to do with the incident.

And finally (for now), CBS’ Andante Higgins bragged about his BBQ experience, closing with this wistful comment:

For McCain the icing on the cake will be clinching the GOP nomination next week.

If that happens, McCain and his press corps can expect a change. Increased security could limit their unfettered access and intimate gatherings and McCain’s barbecue ribs could be off the menu.

The following weeks were filled with such important issues like McCain ruling John Kerry out as his running mate (2 stories) as well as his response to Hillary Clinton’s “3AM call” ad.  Such hard hitting journalism.


Here is the full (as far as I know) list of the attendees of the McCain suck up BBQ of 2008:

Dana Bash,CNN

Washington Post reporter Michael Shear

Reuters’ Jeff Mason

CBS’s Dante Higgins

Newsweek’s Holly Bailey

Libby Copeland Washington Post Staff Writer


Dan Nowicki , The Arizona Republic

Scott Orr, Newark Star-Ledger

Michael Cooper

Kelly Shannon, AP

Politico’s Jonathan Martin

Laura Meckler, WSJ

Ana Marie Cox, TIME

Gerald Herbert, AP

Khue Bui, Newsweek

Libby Quaid – AP

Jill Zuckman – Chicago Tribune

Sasha Issenberg – Boston Globe

Adam Aigner – NBC

Mosheh Oinounou – FOX

Brett Hovell – ABC

Tasha Diakides, CNN (bylined on blog article)

Evan Glass , CNN (bylined on blog article)

David Jackson USA Today

Steve Hayes, Weekly Standard

Let’s keep an eye out – this is the height of conflict in interest, and we must make sure that people like this are called out when they violate their journalistic responsibilities (which happens all too frequently).


    • OPOL on March 14, 2008 at 23:20


    Sums it up pretty well.  

    And they can be bought with barbecue and a pledge of un-ending war.  Go figure.

  1. He’s had the media eating out of his hand for years.

    He probably understands the laziness of the media better than any other politician.  He’ll do any interview, talk show, supermarket opening, etc., on a moment’s notice.  

    The media doesn’t have to work to get a story from him.  Anybody facing a deadline can always count on a quote or a whole story from McCain.  So they want to stay on his good side as an insurance policy.  Insurance against having to work for a story.  

  2. I’m a journalist, and I can’t for the life of me understand what these people and their editors were thinking.  Here’s how the conversation would have gone at my most recent employer:

    Reporter:  Hey, I got invited to go to this barbecue of McCain’s. Is it okay for me to go?

    Editor: Who’s going to be there?  Is it a campaign retreat, or for big donors, or what?

    Reporter:  No, just other reporters.

    Editor: What?  Why should I send you there to hang out with a bunch of other reporters?  What the hell kind of story can you file with that?

    Reporter:  Well, I wasn’t really going to do a story, the campaign said it was off the record.  It’s supposed to be a gesture of appreciation at the end of the primary campaign.

    Editor: What the hell?  The guy didn’t just move into your neighborhood, he’s running for President.  Your job is to cover him, not schmooze with him.

    Reporter:  Yeah, but the AP and Reuters guys will be there.

    Editor:  Good, then if something interesting happens we can run their pieces instead of yours.

    Reporter:  I think you’re making a mistake, boss.  Something big might happen.

    Editor: Okay, how much time are we talking about here?  You need a whole afternoon for this thing?

    Reporter:  Ah…well….it’s in Arizona so it will take me the whole weekend to get there and back.  Also, the hotel is a five-star spa, but they have a nice package for $1,170 for two nights.  The campaign said they’d book it for me.


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