28 sep 08 Media and US elections analysis

 

By David Sessions, Slate Magazine

The NYT begins what is certain to be a long string of investigation of exactly how the current crisis developed. An off-lead story goes “behind” the AIG crisis, its headline reporting the insurer’s “blind eye to a web of risk.” The LAT‘s front page wonders if taxpayers might actually turn a profit on the bailout, citing the government’s 1994 rescue of the Mexican peso—an investment that yielded a $500 million profit. The WP‘s front page focuses on matters of the moment, like whether the collective turn of the nation’s heads toward the economy will hurt John McCain. Barack Obama has opened up a narrow lead in national polls as well as significant battleground states, putting McCain on the defensive. “For McCain, the danger is that previously undecided voters will become comfortable that Obama is ready to be president. The longer Obama can hold even a small lead, the more difficult it will be for McCain to reverse it.”

An expansive, above-the-fold A1 story in the NYT highlights John McCain’s “many ties” to the gambling industry, illustrating with an accompanying graphic that contributions from gambling interests to McCain’s campaign are double those made to Barack Obama. McCain is a “lifelong gambler” and “one of the founding fathers of Indian gaming,” according to a professor and “leading Indian gambling expert.” More than 40 of McCain’s advisers and fundraisers have worked for “an array of gambling interests” ranging from Las Vegas casinos to online poker purveyors. The only comment the Times received from the McCain campaign was a hostile suggestion that the story would “insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists” and “gamble away” its remaining credibility.

WP ombudsman Deborah Howell responds to e-mails from 750 angry readers—”more than I heard from about the financial crisis”—protesting a Pat Oliphant cartoon that ran on the Post‘s Web site. The illustration depicted Sarah Palin speaking in tongues to God, who responded that he couldn’t understand her “damn right wing gibberish.” Howell’s poll of Post editors finds that the paper would not have run the cartoon in print.

 

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