To see what truly awaits John McCain’s friends in the media if and when he is elected president, one need to look no further than his speech today before the Associated Press.
After taking a series of pokes at the profession in general (can’t be caught being too gracious to his hosts) he reminds the roomful of reporters that he is in effect, however reluctantly, doing them a favor by “narrowly” deciding to support a new Shield Law for them now pending in the Senate. He then warns the journalists not to take his generosity for granted. He even suggests they might not be worthy of it at all:
The shield law would give great license to you and your sources, with few restrictions, to do as you please no matter the stakes involved and without fear of personal consequences beyond the rebuke of your individual consciences. It is, frankly, a license to do harm, perhaps serious harm …There will be times, I suspect, when I will wonder again if I should have supported this measure. But I trust in your integrity and patriotism that those occasions won’t be so numerous that I will, in fact, deeply regret my decision. And I would hope that when you do something controversial or something that many people find wrong and harmful you would explain fully and honestly how and why you did it, and confess your mistakes, if you made them, in a more noticeable way than afforded by the small print on a corrections page
Aside from the interesting shift from the issue of whether journalists should be protected from over-zealous prosecutors who want to throw them in prison to how a correction is placed in the paper, or the fact the AP said itself in March that the pending measure was a “modest” but limited shelter for reporters, the use of the word “license” — reminding me too much of a father giving his kid the keys to the car and saying, “now, don’t make me regret my decision” — should really raise some red flags.
I guess its’ really the way McCain delivered his remarks, with the sing-songy condescension that seems to get more pronounced the better he is doing in the polls. Therefore, finding a replay of this on CSPAN or on You Tube would provide the full effect of what I heard on the radio this morning.
Before the subsequent Q&A, host and AP political writer Liz Sidoti offered McCain his “favorite treats” – as every reporter on the Straight Talk Express apparently knows – frosted donuts with sprinkles and coffee, “a little cream, a little sugar.”
Most people think that the media relationship under a prospective Hillary Clinton Administration would be as combative, secretive and inaccessible as it was under the first one (I know, how is that different from today?) But I’m afraid the “thank you sir, may I have another” ritual threatening to come with McCain’s famous access might be even more worrisome.