September 22nd, 2008
12:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Senior McCain aide skewers New York Times


Watch: A McCain audience member condemns the media coverage of Sarah Palin.

(CNN) - McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt accused the New York Times Monday of being “in the tank” for Barack Obama’s presidential bid, and charged the Democrat’s team with a “campaign of intimidation” directed at his critics.

“Whatever by the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization,” said Schmidt, on a conference call with reporters. “It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin and excuses Senator Obama.

“There is no level of outrage directed at his deceptive ads. There is no vetting...This is an organization that is completely, totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate,” said Schmidt, saying later: “We would hope in the last 43 days of this campaign… that there is a restoration to some degree of a level of symmetry in coverage.”

The former Bush adviser has been an increasingly vocal media critic. Earlier this month, he accused journalists of being on a “mission to destroy” Sarah Palin, and called a Times investigative report on the vetting process that preceded her selection as McCain’s running mate a “work of fiction.”

Schmidt also told reporters on the call, “There is no question that there is a fierce campaign of intimidation directed at any critic of Obama’s” by his campaign.

But McCain aides backed away from claims last week that Obama had pressured Senator Hillary Clinton into backing out of an appearance at a rally where Governor Sarah Palin would be in attendance, and of pushing organizers to disinvite the Republican VP nominee, with campaign manager Rick Davis saying instead that the incident demonstrated a “failure of leadership” by the Democratic nominee.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. Hate did the dirty work

    Obama seeks to be the supreme leader- no one is allowed to criticize him and no one calls him to task for all of HIS lies and HIS misleading ads, and HIS personal attacks.

    People- be careful what you wish for. The Dictator may come as the prince of peace.

    The media needs to start some unbiased coverage of these campaigns. They did the same thing to HRC until Obama was able to steal the nomination from her.

    September 22, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. shute

    Sorry McCain, but you lose all credibility when you...

    (1) make "country first" your campaign slogan and then put politics (i.e., securing the Republican base) first by choosing a grossly underqualified running mate

    (2) call yourself an agent of change after voting with George W. 90% of the time

    (3) promise a campaign of ideas and straight talk, and then smear Obama with blatent lies in your ads (even Karl Rove said so)

    When you have nothing in your own record or platform to defend, go on the offensive. Blame the media "elites", and do everything you can to make the electorate afraid of the other guy. Won't work this time.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Steve

    Wait, there are people who still think the NYTimes have credibility? Surely these ignorant fools must be employees of the discredited paper...

    September 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. ZEPPO

    The NYT is so biased they may as well hire Keith Oberman as the editor.

    OPOMPOUS can’t win. If you look at the AOL straw poll (where McCain is winning every state) and match it against the electoral map and you give Obama every state where he got more than 39 percent of the vote, even then he still looses by a landslide.

    The Dems picked the wrong candidate.

    September 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. SecularAnimist

    It is amazing that CNN runs this as a story about what the McCain campaign has to say - WITHOUT reporting on what the McCain campaign was complaining about: namely that the New York Times correctly and accurately reported that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis was paid TWO MILLION DOLLARS over a period of years by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, to lobby against the very sort of regulations that might have prevented the sub-prime mortgage crisis!

    September 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Be afraid

    All dictators have the unflinching support of the media.

    They become dictators precisely because no one dares to challenge, question or criticize them.

    Obama banned criticism at the start.

    THAT is what is scary.

    September 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Pam

    Would you like some cheese with that whine?

    September 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Chuck

    I'm not intimidated. I still believe that Obama is a racist, socialist, who will hand theis country over to special interests and foreign influence.

    God Bless America!!

    Thank God for John McCain!!!

    September 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Rob

    The McCain camp would have a shorter list if the just listed the news organizations who WEREN'T sitting around the Obamiah all starry-eyed. Heck, Keith Oberman's desk is probably covered with I Heart Obama drawings.

    Yes, unfortunately this election will also be remembered as the year the media finally stopped reporting the news.

    Fortunately there are still those of us smarter than a doorstop who see the media's obvious slant and won't be fooled by it.

    Matt Damon said that a Palin presidency would be like a Disney movie. Well, an Obama presidency would be like another movie...Jacka–

    September 22, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Rich from Philly

    This is a simple attempt to divert attention away from all the lies in the McCain ads and speeches. Accuse someone else of doing it too; therefore, OK for McCain to lie in his ads about Obama. Somehow i don't think the type of honor and integrity we want in a President.

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Whiny & cheesey ... McCain doesn't seem to notice that Fact Check has corrected twice as many ads for lies as Obama's.

    The "straight-talk express" has become a manure spreader. McCain even denies that Palin, as mayor, made rape victims pay for their own rape-kits .. and there is ample written data from 2000 to prove it!

    McCain/Palin and all his ilk can not stand the light of day or anyone who tells the truth ... too low to step on and too slimy to kick ..

    When Cheney's pal is running your ads – you know your ads will be packs of lies ... 'fess up, Mr. McCain!!!

    Foaming at the mouth, ranting and raving does not look very Presidential.

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Beverly, NYC

    Boo Hoo, the Times doesn't like me, how dare they I'm a POW!!

    Where is the sense of humor you're always telling Barack to have?
    Nice to see your translator Lieberman is back on the scene. Now your mis-statements can be correct the same day.

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Yawn

    The paper that has been reduced to a rag is The Wall St Journal. This is of course since Murdoch acquired it. Thank God for the NY Times. We in NY have very few places left from which to gather real honest news. You wanna talk about being in the tank? I've got one word for you FOX!

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Preston

    Please tell me Steven Schmidt is joking. Mr. Schmidt, disciple of the infamous Lee Atwater and equally infamous Karl Rove, has the temerity to try to bully the NY Times into no longer telling the truth about McCain and Palin, while whining that Sen. Obama's campaign is engaging in a “campaign of intimidation” directed at his critics.

    What would be almost hysterically funny, if it weren't so frightening, is his accusation the there is "no vetting" performed by the NY Times when it comes to its coverage of Sen. Obama. No vetting? Why does that phrase sound so familiar? Oh yes, of course! It's because it was the virtual absence of vetting by McCain's people that insulted the nation's intelligence by giving us, potentially a heartbeat from the Presidency, a person whose qualifications are absurdly non-existent.

    There is indeed "symmetry" in coverage of the candidates. Unfortunately, the McCain-Palin are so convinced of their own misrepresentations and falsifications that they are unable to recognize the truth when they are confronted with it. It just so happens that virtually every objective observer of the two campaigns' claims has concluded that there is no symmetry whatsoever regarding the source of the distortions and – yes – the lies..

    Mr. Schmidt, you can't keep lying and expect not to be called on it.. Again and again and again and again and again. As long as it takes. Until the lies stop.

    Mr. McCain's claims to fame are his three-plus decades old experience in Vietnam, and his alleged integrity. The first has long since become irrelevant (if it ever was), and the latter has ceased to exist (if it ever did).

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. David in Illinois

    What a load of bull. A great American newspaper calls out McCain for all his failed policy stands and mudslinging/smearing campaign tactics so the paper is pro-Obama???? What a bunch of hippocrites!! What a bunch of WHINERS!!
    What about Fox News? Now there's a "news" operation TRULY "in the tank" for McCain/Palin/Bush. Sean Hannity? Come on... you can't be more partisan, maybe with the exception of Rush Limbaugh.
    The media needs to bring back THE KEATING FIVE. There's a story that's going unreported. Remember that bailout fiasco? And who was in the middle of it all? John McCain. Why is the media so timid about this story? It goes to McCain's supposed "judgment."
    McCain should stop bringing up the tenuous Obama-Resko ties, and start trying to explain his indefensible stands on real issues. His pro-deregulation policies are DIRECTLY responsible for this mess we're in. Wake up America!!! The race should not be this close.

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. bruce

    Sen. McCain and his campaign need to focus on the issues and offer solutions. Chris Matthews hit it right on the head... Sen. McCain and his convention... didn't say the word 'Republican"... didn't say "George Bush's name once"... and completely running from the any accountablity from their party.

    Sen. McCain is running a failed campaign with no real definition or substance. They avoid the real issues. They continued "distraction" and "blame" the other guy, the other party, or the media... anything other than realizing the truth.

    To be a Republican is Shameful...

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Steve Schmidt, a grad of the Herr Karl Josef GoebbelsRove School of Propaganda! You will do well at Fox News after you lose the election, pal!

    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Dana

    Cry babies Cry babies- I am soooo tired of the McCain campaign crying and whining!! I have only two outlets to hear accurate news MSNBC and Air America radio- every other news channel and most papers are "in the tank" with Conservatives- so I am sick of the Repugs whining about this. You NEVER hear Obama attacking or accusing any news organization for their slant on things- and even went on the RIGHTY network of FOX to talk to Bill O'Reilly.
    The news media historically leans to the right being that the major corps running them are in the RIGHTY's pockets... so John McCain and his campaign of whiners can shove it!!
    For once we have somewhat of a campaign where they try to cover all angles. all though I think CNN has cowered to the RIGHT's whining- I do think they try to do more "fact checks" for both sides.
    At the end of the day Journalists have freedom of the press and freedom of speech- as long as John McCain doesn't become President hopefully we will Preserve those rights! Clearly the Repugs have always been in favor of Freedom of Speech so long as you say what they want you to!!!!


    September 22, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. NB

    When can this people stop whining . We hear them complaining all the time. So Schmidit it is okay for you people to attack Obama with all the lies and smears. You really think that MCcain and Palin should not be blamed at all .In that case you should only watch Fox.

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. Chicago Zak

    [“There is no question that there is a fierce campaign of intimidation directed at any critic of Obama’s” by his campaign.]

    Wait, isn't this exactly what the McCain campaign is doing by holding this conversation?

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Ilandking

    Are you kidding me? If the stories were not true then thats one thing but to complain for the free-press pointing out your flaws; talk about ridiculous...

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. James in NJ

    And what about the McCain/Palin bias at the Fox News Network??????
    Sean Hannity and Bill O'reilly are such dunces. They insult Obama at every turn and they think Palin is the smartest woman in history! They actually make stuff up about all of them.

    Bad Press-Sorry McCain but remember:
    You can try to put lipstick on a pig but.....

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. AA

    Two words...

    Eat it.

    The person who is responsible for complete lawbreaking, verifiable lies, and has insulted anyone with an IQ over 80 by picking Palin, is complaining that people are actually calling him and his party out on

    Spare me the bull outrage you cynical lying looser. See you again in 4 yrs.


    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Ron from Baltimore


    Steve Schmidt-talk about a campaign of intimidation of critics! You Republicans are all over it, overtly, covertly, insidiously, or in-your-face. As Lee Atwater taught you all well, and as he taught Karl Rove who begat the current crop of senior advisers (plus the nearly two-dozen "former" lobbyists for Big Oil, Fannie Mae, etc.), just put the lies out there. Make up another one before there is even any time to consider or respond to the first one.

    Republicans, you are a gang of whiners, only worse. You actively seek to deny the truth to the American people.

    In short, you are in the tank for the dark side; we can see it in Palin-McCain campaigners' eyes more clearly every day.

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. AZModerate

    McCain's campaign staff is doing nothing but whining these days.

    September 22, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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