Providence Phoenix Political Hit-“Journalism”
One hopes that some vestige of integrity left Mary Ann Sorrentino feeling dirty as she submitted a hit piece on McCain to the Providence Phoenix. Inasmuch as the paper actually published it, however, that hope is likely baseless.
The more than 1500 pages detailing McCain’s medical information do not dispel the notion that the candidate’s notorious temper may be related to his more than five years in a Vietnam prison camp. Reporting on his health in May, the New York Times noted how McCain’s doctors called him robust. The end of the story also noted: “As a prisoner of war, Mr. McCain told doc-tors, he had tried to commit suicide twice. But by 1977, he said he had ‘all but forgotten the traumas of captivity.'” …
In John McCain: An American Odyssey (Free Press, 2007) author Robert Timberg (who knows, the candidate has said, “more about me than I do”) calls McCain’s legendary rages “out of all proportion to the provocation.” He has also cited the sound of jangling keys as a trigger for McCain’s POW-related nightmares.
The second paragraph is a freshman-year “paraphrasing” of a passage from this Salon piece by Mark Benjamin, and the “more about me” line apparently comes from promotional materials for Timberg’s book, the most complete rendering of which that I’ve been able to find being: “Bob Timberg…often gives me the unsettling feeling that he knows more about me than I do.” As with all such press-kit one-liners, however, the absent context likely makes all the difference; the next sentence could have, for example, been “But most of the time it seems as if he’s just making stuff up.” (I’m trying to track down the full source.) The limited context that Benjamin/Sorrentino brush off certainly diminishes the quotation’s usefulness of proof that McCain affirms Timberg’s telling.
No doubt — for the sake of fairness and in the name of journalism — the Phoenix will seek out reportage explaining that Obama’s medical records do not “dispel the notion” that he suffers from black rage.