The McCain Campaign vs. The Press

While John McCain might not have had any real chance at winning the 2008 election, his campaign made a number of extremely poor decisions which made victory. While the choice of Sarah Palin as running mate was by far the greatest blunder of this (and possibly any) presidential campaign, other mistakes also seriously hurt the campaign.

One such mistake was to eliminate McCain’s early advantage of being liked by the press attacking them. Michael Goldfarb was assigned the job of handling the attacks on the press. Goldfarb was interviewed by The Columbia Journalism Review. This is his response to a question about what he was expecting when he took the position with the campaign:

[The McCain campaign] assured me that they were looking for someone to attack the press. And that struck me as a really bad idea, but when a presidential campaign calls up and offers you a job you take it. I didn’t think they’d follow through on the claim the way they promised, and I expected to be reined in pretty quickly—end up working on statements and the like. I didn’t expect to have free reign to do what I wanted Occasionally they would task me with something and I wouldn’t get to follow through. Like they were going to throw The New York Times off the plane, I wrote the memo explaining that [decision], and then they changed their minds. But day to day, in terms of picking lines of attack, I was giving a great deal of latitude. I was working with other communication guys—but there was a tremendous amount of latitude and that persisted well beyond the convention, which was surprising.

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