A viewer asked this question on 4/26/2000:
Many pundits said that Senator McCain benefited from tremendous coverage provided by the free Press. How did McCain's message appeal to the free press and how did this affect how Bush and Gore being the final two candidates remaining change their message as a result of McCain's Agenda.
JesseGordon gave this response on 4/26/2000:
The press fell for McCain NOT because of the CONTENT of his message, but because of the METHOD by which he delivered it. I fell for him for that same reason -- I'm the press, too, on my website issues2000.org, where we quoted McCain regularly.
McCain's appeal was that he was open and available. He regularly held "town meetings" where he stayed until everyone's questions were addressed. That means EVERYONE -- he took audience questions until there were none left. That's really unprecedented.
His other appeal was his honesty. His campaign bus was called "The Straight Talk Express" and I think he meant it. He would tell you what he thought, regardless of the popularity of his opinion and regardless of the political implications in the audience he was speaking to. (That's why he didn't run in the Iowa primary -- because the audience didn't like his anti-ethanol stance).
I disagreed with a lot of things that McCain said -- but he certainly made it clear that he disagreed. Most candidates hedge and hem and haw around issues they know you won't like. For example, Bradley's answer on School Choice was "I voted for experimental vouchers, but I don't think vouchers are the answer to everything." If you asked him, "Would you vote for vouchers now?" He'd answer "I voted for experimental vouchers, but I don't think vouchers are the answer to everything." If you asked him, "Do you support more school choice today?" he'd answer, "I voted for experimental vouchers, but I don't think vouchers are the answer to everything." No matter how you asked it, he'd hedge on the answer and just spout his standard line. That is not "straight talk." To the day Bradley withdrew, I never really knew his stance on vouchers. That was never the case with McCain.
How does this affect Gore & Bush? Evidently not too much. I think Bush made a very serious error is dismissing McCain's importance (when asked, "What did you learn from McCain?" Bush answered "Nothing."). And Gore is currently famous (or infamous) in press circles for having avoided any press conferences at all for 6 weeks now.
Bush & Gore (and Buchanan) are always happy to rag on the press about distortion and unfairness or whatever else they dislike that day. But any time they want, THEY can become the "darling of the press" too, by simply giving us what we want -- open and unlimited access and information.
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