ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — Joe the Plumber, Phil the Bricklayer and Rose the Teacher may be popular characters at John McCain’s rallies these days, but apparently, by any name, Joe the Reporter still isn’t.
As a crowd filtered out of an event this morning, McCain’s volunteers directed some supporters to walk through the media workspace on their way to the parking lot. Perhaps because most of the press corps had already left (and only a few stragglers who weren’t joining McCain on a bus tour of the I-4 corridor stayed behind to work), the crowd wasn’t shy about telling us what they thought of the coverage of the election.
“So is the media biased, or one-sided?” a woman asked me. “I don’t know, what do you think?” I said. “I think they’re biased. I think they should get out of everything that’s going on,” she told me. I asked her if that means the press should stop covering the campaign. “Yes, stop covering everything,” she said. “I don’t even watch CNN or NBC anymore.” (Sitting nearby, a CNN reporter and producer were getting similar questions. “Are you CNN?” a woman asked. “When are you going to apologize to Sarah?”)
Another man, walking past, yelled out, “Report it right! Report it right — give us a victory!” I couldn’t help laughing, and when I asked him if giving McCain a victory is the only way to report it right, he answered, “Well, you haven’t been reporting it right so far.” A couple minutes later, a teenager stopped behind me. “Are you a writer?” he asked. “What are you going to write about the speech — something good or something bad? It better be good.”
It all seemed to be mostly good-natured — or at least, unlike at a recent Sarah Palin rally, no one covering the event was physically assaulted. But it was yet another reminder that McCain will probably never again joke that the media is his base. These days, in fact, his base hates the media.