When Obama distorted a McCain remark about staying in Iraq for 100 years -- if we were taking no casualties -- into an endorsement of endless war, the media generally tsk-tsked that McCain should be more careful about what he says. Obama just ran an ad saying McCain would cut education funding -- with no evidence. His response to McCain's supposed out-of-control negativity is a new negative ad misleadingly creating the impression that McCain aides are currently lobbying for special interests.
What has truly driven the media batty is McCain's selection of Sarah Palin. The first days after her announcement brought gross misreporting and personal smears; followed by a Charlie Gibson interview during which the newscaster appeared disgusted that he even had to talk to such a lowly and unworthy personage; followed by front-page Washington Post and New York Times reports on her tenure in Alaska that were so hostile they left it a mystery why she has an 86 percent approval rating as governor.
Palin will forever be a target. A pro-life, pro-gun evangelical with five kids, Palin has made the election even more into a culture war than it was before. Not only do national journalists resent that, they are, as urbanites and self-styled sophisticates, largely on the other side of that war as a matter of lifestyle and conviction. Because cultural matters cut so close to the core, it is nearly impossible for them to hide their allegiance.
Whatever affection they still have for McCain is now expressed in self-interested yearning: Where is the McCain of old, the one who could be reliably counted on to lose?