After watching Meet the Press this morning, I'm more inclined to believe liberal accounts of a media bias in favor of Senator McCain. Temp host Tom Brokaw had Sen. Lieberman on as a surrogate for McCain, and Sen. Kerry as a surrogate for Sen. Obama. For almost the entire length of the segment, the pressure was on Kerry to account for purported flip-flops by his candidate and for Obama's alleged employment of the "race card." I recall no really tough questions for Lieberman, when anyone who has the man in front of him must ask why he's throwing away the rest of his reportedly liberal political agenda in order to endorse the war in the form of McCain. In addition, anyone interviewing Lieberman should ask, just as they should ask McCain, why anyone should celebrate the surge when it only amounted to cleaning up a mess that we shouldn't have made in the first place. Instead, when Kerry reminded the audience that the "Sunni Awakening" was well under way before the surge was, Lieberman accused him of disrespecting the troops. Brokaw showed little sense of balance, though why he should feel toward Obama the way his colleagues on the campaign trail feel is a mystery to me.
There is cause for concern in Obama's apparent enjoyment of the adulation of large crowds, and for the whole idea of giving a campaign speech in a foreign country. I think doing so will backfire on him, and I'll address the issue of Obama and crowds at a later date. But with the campaign reporters there's supposedly a feeling that Obama is aloof, perhaps stuck-up, as unfavorably contrasted with the glad-handing bantering McCain. Perhaps to the extent that Obama is a sort of idealist and takes idealism seriously, the more cynical media might be inclined to look down on him while, being cynical, they prefer McCain's more irreverent manner. McCain can be a funny guy -- if elected, he'll be the first President ever to have hosted Saturday Night Line (and he did a good job, too, especially when busting on John Ashcroft circa 2002). But John Stewart put things in perspective when addressing the issue of Obama's alleged arrogance: anyone who thinks he ought to be "the leader of the free world" has got to be at least a little arrogant, and that has to go for McCain as well as Obama. Or does adopting the "limited-government" Reaganite ideology make a would-be President less arrogant? Or does the sort of arrogance that sacrifices other people's lives to make an ideological argument for "freedom" in the Muslim world count for less than whatever arrogance reporters detect in Obama?
The real question is what reporters' opinions on the personalities of the candidates have to do with anything. Unfortunately, blogging has turned just about every reporter into a talking head, so subjective opinion seeps into everyone's reporting. This tendency favors Republicans, since it allows them to exploit people's irrational mistrust of politicians who "think they're better than us" or "want to tell us how to live." It's too early to tell whether Americans have learned their lesson after twice rejecting "arrogant" or "elitist" candidates in favor of George W. Bush, but the media don't give us much cause for optimism.