Steve Schmidt is widely credited with re-energizing the McCain campaign with his tough and often deceptive style, but his latest is a bit much, even for a Karl Rove protégé. During a conference call with reporters, Schmidt accused The New York Times of being “a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day impugns the McCain campaign.”
Perhaps it’s not that Schmidt has trotted out that Republican cliché of attacking the paper of record—his tirade will surely earn McCain points on the talk radio circuit. What makes his otherwise predictable comments worth noting is that they fit a cynical pattern designed to intimidate the media—with which Schmidt was speaking—from doing their job.
His statements came after a question from CNN’s Dana Bash, who asked about a Times article that exposed the hypocrisy of one of McCain’s ads. We’ve seen this before: When held accountable, Team McCain often responds by attacking the media.
His lengthy broadside, prompted by an article Monday documenting ties between the campaign and lobbying for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was the latest in a series of grievances with the Gray Lady that that aides to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have aired publicly.
“Whatever The New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization,” Schmidt said. “It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day impugns the McCain campaign, attacks Sen. McCain, attacks Gov. [Sarah] Palin. It excuse Sen. Obama. …
“Everything that is read in The New York Times that attacks this campaign should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective — that it is an organization that has made a decision to cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition, to advocate for the defeat of one candidate — in this case, John McCain — and to advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.”