Press Box

The Return of McSwoonery

Journalists in love–it’s not a pretty sight. When they’re not blushing at the mention of their beloved they’re crocheting heart-shaped pillows like this story about Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Newsweek. The New York Times’ tendencies toward McSwoonery were charted twice in this column during the campaign (here and here), but after a year of cooling, the embers of the press corps’ hot love glow once more.

In the offending article, “McCain’s Mooseketeers,” reporter Matt Bai seeks to hide his love away with this lede:

For the other politicians pushing campaign-finance reform, the trip to East 20th Street in Manhattan a few weeks ago was a great photo op.

But then he surrenders to the two-fisted war hero, writing:

To John McCain, however, the visit to Teddy Roosevelt’s boyhood home was more like a pilgrimage.

Any guy who’s fallen in love will understand Bai’s double-standard: My girl is red-hot, your gal is doodly-squat. When other politicians take the press on visual field trips, they’re photo-op whores, but when McCain does it, he’s America’s Sweetheart.

Another mash note from the Newsweek piece:

McCain once had a reputation as a bully, the kind of senator who was better at lecturing colleagues than at pulling them together. No more. Modeling himself after his idol–the most skillful reformer who ever happened into the Oval Office–McCain has emerged as the leader of moderates in both parties. …

And still more:

McCain has missed airline flights because people mob him in airports; at a Georgetown basketball game, he received a thunderous ovation–except from the corporate boxes, where there were scattered boos.

The Newsweek story implies that Fortune 500 kingpins were booing McCain from the corporate boxes. In fact, the raspberries came from press critics who have had it with the pampering reporters give McCain.

With McSwoonery on the rise once more, Press Box urges readers to forward all examples to pressbox@slate.com. The love that won’t speak its name must be stopped!