During the Rick Warren/Saddleback event over the weekend — in which Obama and McCain were both asked exactly the same questions, and Obama went first — Warren, the questioner, told the audience repeatedly that McCain was “in a cone of silence” so he wouldn’t gain unfair advantage by hearing the questions in advance. It appears that McCain was in fact in his car being driven to the event, and who knows what he was listening to.
Now, this little Get Smart reference isn’t the world’s most earthshattering issue. McCain is getting “graded on a curve” (as Josh Marshall puts it) all the time anyway. But in the McCain campaign’s reaction you can get an indication of just how hypersensitive and defense it is to being criticized by the media: McCain’s people demanded an apology from NBC for even suggesting that there was anything to the “no cone of silence” story. They also insisted that it was a terrible thing to ask whether McCain might have done something wrong because he is, you know, a former POW.
So is there anything to the story? Ultimately it’s a tiny issue, but the way it is surfacing in the media certainly leaves readers scratching their heads. Take today’s New York Times: on the op-ed page,
Times columnist William Kristol writes “There’s no evidence that McCain had any such advantage.” (That’s on the Web edition of the article; my print paper this morning read: “There seems to be absolutely no basis for this charge.” I guess Kristol is now editing his text for the Web without making any note of the revision.)
Meanwhile, an article in the very same edition of the very same newspaper — one featured with a teaser on the paper’s front page — is headlined, “Despite Assurances, McCain Wasn’t in a ‘Cone of Silence.'”
Let’s see if or when the paper attempts to resolve this.
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