Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

McCain and Media Payback

Finally announcing his candidacy and trashing Alberto Gonzales, the Senator from Arizona is experiencing the full force of Media Payback, a phenomenon that goes back to the Kennedys in the 1960s.

At the start, it was pure love--an articulate young President, a beautiful First Lady with continental tastes, adorable kids romping in the Rose Garden. The Media couldn’t stop blowing kisses.

Ten years later, with JFK gone and the widow married to Aristotle Onassis--rich, foreign and no Adonis--the Payback was in full force with ugly memoirs of servants, furor over the widow’s attempt to censor a book about the assassination and the airing of all the suppressed stories about the late President’s womanizing.

By the time Ted Kennedy ran his car into the waters off Chappaquiddick in 1969, the Kennedy legend was toast.

McCain now is on the receiving end of similar if less dramatic Media Payback. In 2000, reporters lost their hearts to his openness and candor. Now they (and I don't exclude myself) are disappointed by his human failings.

Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, among others, also went through cycles of being over-hyped and trashed. It’s not only a natural process but, for the Media, an efficient one.

The rise and then the fall of larger-than-life figures gives them two running stories to report.

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