ROCHESTER, N.H. – After months of frustration about what it sees as fawning media coverage of Barack Obama, John McCain’s campaign went on offense Tuesday with a Web video called “The media is in LOVE with Barack.”
The montage, which features news anchors and correspondents discussing “Obamamania” as Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” plays, was sent to supporters to raise campaign donations in a week when McCain has been largely overshadowed by coverage of Obama’s overseas trip.
Charging the media with “a bizarre fascination with Barack Obama,” the e-mail reads: “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.” Among the clips is MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews reacting to Obama’s speeches: “I felt this thrill going up my leg. I don’t have that too often.” Another clip showed Lee Cowan of NBC News telling the network’s anchor, Brian Williams, about the enthusiasm of Obama’s crowds: “It’s almost hard to remain objective; because it’s infectious.”
In past campaigns, complaints about media bias have galvanized conservatives, which could help McCain as he tries to solidify the Republican base.
But the sentiments in the fundraising e-mail Tuesday were also a public expression of months of grumbling by McCain advisers, who sarcastically call Obama “The One.”
On McCain’s plane from New Hampshire to Baltimore, McCain adviser Mark Salter cited analyses by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which studies the fairness of coverage by evaluating campaign stories. The project found Obama had a “distinct advantage” over McCain in the six weeks since Hillary Rodham Clinton exited the race. Obama has appeared as a leading newsmaker in 78 percent of election stories and McCain in 51 percent.
Salter joked that he had moved from anger to resignation. “It is what it is,” he said. “I would contend that the facts will show that Obama gets 50 percent more attention in the news than McCain does … I don’t know if that is good or bad for us.”
For his part, McCain avoided complaining. When Katie Couric asked him Tuesday about the video, which spliced red hearts and titles like “He makes them swoon” between the news clips, McCain said news coverage has been fair.
“I’m a big boy,” he told Couric on The CBS Evening News. “And I’m enjoying every minute of the campaigning. And I’m certainly not complaining.”
But those comments do not reflect the mood of his aides. They were visibly upset, for example, that at least two networks cut away from McCain’s speech the night Obama clinched the nomination.
Aides point out that McCain’s foreign trips have received scant attention compared with the 200 requests Obama’s campaign fielded from news organizations to travel with candidate this week. All three network news anchors went with Obama.