September 3, 2008
McCain, Brown, King and Everybody (Bob Franken)
@ 10:54 am
I usually avoid writing about CNN because we're divorced and I worry that positive or negative, whatever I say might be perceived as conflicted, my impartiality thrown into question.
This time, that's a risk worth taking, thanks to a bit of spitefulness by John McCain that is so spiteful that, while it may appear petty, it is anything but … it is un-American.
When he canceled a previously scheduled appearance this week on CNN's "Larry King Live" show, Wednesday night, he did so as retaliation for a tough interview the night before by one of the network's other anchors, Campbell Brown.
Campbell (more disclosure: I know and like her) had the AUDACITY of aggressively questioning campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds about the selection of Sarah Palin as vice presidential candidate.
Someone in the campaign bunker decided that could not be tolerated — that CNN needed to be put in its place — as an example to all that this legitimate inquiry cannot be allowed.
Never mind that Campbell's line of aggressive questioning was perfectly valid and in our country's best tradition. As far as the McCain camp seems to be concerned, all this challenging journalism is getting out of hand. All these reporters and their news organizations need to be intimidated, this skepticism crushed. So Larry King had to kiss his interview with John McCain goodbye. After all, the Bush White House successfully used the same tactics to keep the media in line during the run-up to Iraq.
In fairness, we should note that McCain is not the only one who has played favorites. Time after time, we've watched Democrats pander to their base by blowing off Fox News. Also, in fairness, there have been far too many instances where TV hosts and other self-promoters have crossed the line into cheer leading for one candidate or another.
Frankly, it all needs to stop. We don't need Barack Obama seeking assurances before finally appearing on Bill O'Reilly's program this week. And we sure as hell don't need John McCain pulling the plug on CNN because he didn't like persistent questions about Sarah Palin.
Palin should have an easy time of it tonight. In keeping with the rules of the "Expectations Game,” all she will have to do is recite her lines in a coherent fashion to dispel the notion she's weird.
Even so, the scrutiny will go on and should go on. One must be consumed by ideology to resent the digging into McCain's selection process and Palin's qualifications. The appearance of haste and poor preparation can only be dispelled by answering the impertinent questions … not by trying to kill the questioners.