Yesterday, John McCain claimed he was suspending his presidential campaign, and this morning KUOW dutifully and credulously reported it—four times within a 2-minute segment—and despite the fact that the surrounding piece clearly contradicted the claim from the initial lead in:
John McCain has suspended his presidential campaign. He says he needs to help his colleagues in DC fix the financial crisis. But Republicans continued fundraising yesterday (Wed) in Bellevue. Cindy McCain and Todd Palin helped raise nearly a million dollars at a luncheon in Hunts Point.
So… exactly what does it mean to suspend one’s campaign while the nominees’ spouses are raising a million bucks? Huh. Perhaps Washington State Republican Party chair Luke Esser can clear things up:
ESSER SAYS IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS. EVEN THOUGH THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN IS SUSPENDED. ESSER SAYS IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. ALTHOUGH HE DOES HAVE ONE CONCERN.
ESSER: “You know, I worry that if Barack Obama doesn’t suspend his campaign, that he’ll be raising money, and he’ll be running negative ads against Senator McCain, and that may give him an advantage. But I think in the long run, frankly, doing the right thing usually has its own reward, and I think the American people will appreciate that kind of campaign. It’ll be refreshing.”
Um… so… Esser voices concern about Obama raising money while McCain’s campaign is suspended, at the very same time he’s hosting Cindy McCain at a million dollar fundraiser? And the reporter doesn’t bother to challenge with a follow up? I mean… what the fuck?
But it gets worse…
ESSER MADE IT TO LUNCH AND DINNER WITH FELLOW REPUBLICANS. AND SO DID CHRIS FIDLER. HE’S STATE CO–CHAIR OF THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN STEERING COMMITTEE. HE SAYS HE FOUND OUT THE CAMPAIGN WAS SUSPENDED AFTER HE’D GONE TO THE MILLION–DOLLAR LUNCH. HE SAYS MRS. MCCAIN DIDN’T MENTION IT…
FIDLER: “We’re standing down in terms of campaign activity. We’re going to wait to see how these negotiations go.”
That’s right, they’re “standing down.” Except for, you know, the million dollar fundraiser with Cindy McCain and Todd Palin. And McCain’s speech in New York this morning. And the political ads that continue to run nationwide. But we can trust Fidler that other than that, the McCain campaign, both nationally and locally, has been “suspended,” right?
Huh. This seemed like an opportunity for some actual reporting, so I called the McCain campaign’s West Regional Headquarters in Henderson NV, and surprisingly, they answered on the first ring. They gave me the number for the Washington State campaign, who didn’t answer until the fifth ring (in their defense, from the background noise, they sounded pretty busy), and they assured me that McCain was just “trying to make a point,” but that no local activities had been canceled.
Finally, I sent this following email to the campaign (I’m ashamed to say, under an assumed name):
I have some time to volunteer for John McCain today and tomorrow, and was wondering if there are volunteering opportunities available while Sen. McCain has suspended his campaign, or even if your offices are open. I’m in Kirkland, and am looking for something within a reasonable drive.
And a Don Skillman, emailing from a mccain08hq.com address, quickly and courteously replied:
Our office in Bellevue is wide open.. Ask for Moses..
Hmm. It sounds to me like the only thing that was suspended was KUOW’s disbelief.