Brian Fitzpatrick

In TIME magazine’s perspective, John McCain is a master manipulator and Barack Obama is a victim. Or at least that’s what the editors want you to think.

TIME’s two lead campaign stories on the Web site Monday morning are marvelously contrasting in their tones. The Arizona senator gets a punch in the snoot: “McCain’s Outraged and Outrageous Campaign.” The Illinois senator gets a sympathetic cuddle: “For Obama, Race Remains Elephant in the Room.” 

The first story, by Michael Scherer, accuses the GOP presidential nominee of manipulating voters’ emotions, and media coverage, by using false indignation as a political tactic. McCain “baited the outrage hook” primarily by taking umbrage at the “alleged mistreatment that the press and the Obama campaign were heaping on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.” 

A glance at TIME’s own Web site suggests strongly that the McCain campaign has legitimate grounds for complaint.  On Sept. 2, TIME posted the shameful “Searching for Palin’s ‘Hot Photos’”; Sept. 9, “Skeletons in Palin’s Closet?”; Sept. 10, “Sarah Palin’s Myth of America”; Sept. 11, “How Did Palin Do? Two Views [both critical of Palin]; and Sept. 11, “Palin and Troopergate: A Primer.”

What “outrageous” act has McCain committed, in Scherer’s eyes?  He “compared Obama to Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and even Moses, mocking Obama’s ‘celebrity’ in a way that was both controversial and certain to grab lots of free airtime.” Pretty thin gruel, but Scherer gets an assist from kneejerk TIME leftie Joe Klein.  In his Sept. 10 blog, “Apology Not Accepted,” Klein huffs that McCain’s ad grilling Obama for supporting comprehensive sex ed for kindergartners is “one of the sleaziest ads I’ve ever seen in presidential politics, so sleazy that I won’t abet its spread by linking to it.” 

TIME’s Karen Tumulty asks in a blog, “Why doesn’t Obama hit back harder?”  She points to the second lead story, Michael Grunwald’s “For Obama, Race Remains Elephant in the Room.” Grunwald suggests that Obama is being victimized by America’s racism: “So Obama is probably wise to ignore the liberals who keep begging him to drop his air of unflappability and start taking Republican scalps. White America already embraces black celebrities, even ‘flashy’ ones. But it has never really warmed up to an angry one.”


Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick, a writer, editor, and commentator on political and cultural issues, is the Senior Editor at Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute.

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