Press Box

McSwoon Takes the Lede at the Times

The New York Times’ continued infatuation with John McCain infects the ledes of two campaign stories today. Page One’s “McCain Denounces Political Tactics of Christian Right” paints McCain in the most flattering colors.

Taking his presidential campaign to a stronghold of Christian conservatism, Senator John McCain of Arizona delivered a harsh attack today on the “self-appointed leaders” of the religious right, depicting them as intolerant empire builders who “have turned good causes into businesses” while trying to exclude all but “card-carrying Republicans” from the party.

Note how the story spins in McCain’s direction–“Taking his presidential campaign to a stronghold of Christian conservatism”–before it reports the news. A McCain flack couldn’t have written a more buttery prelude to the story.

Compare the McCain lede with the lede of “Bush Sticks to the Middle to Blunt McCain’s Attacks,” which appears on Page A16 of the East Coast edition:

Continuing a prolonged zag to the political middle, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas campaigned furiously in Washington State today and reached out to moderate voters by focusing on issues like education and tax cuts.

The construction is the same–a participial phrase introduces the story, the spin commences before the news arrives–but the similarities end there. The Times interprets Bush’s latest move as tactical and unimaginative, while portraying McCain’s speech as a heroic political sortie against the forces of intolerance.

Any more McSwoonery and the Times will have to file an “in-kind contribution” form with the Federal Election Commission.

For previous examples of New York Times McSwoonery, click here and here.