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McCain Ignored by Mainstream Press?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Tonight you're going to meet the veteran and the man that shot that video and the story that you'll see only right here on "Hannity & Colmes".

But first, our "Top Story" tonight, a story that the rest of the mainstream media would, perhaps, not want to talk about, conservatives and the McCain campaign are furious about what they perceive as a love fest between the press and Barack Obama.

First, it was the network news anchors traveling overseas with Senator Obama. Then it was the New York Times refusing to run a McCain op-ed about Iraq. And now from the Manchester Union leader comes a report that when McCain arrived in New Hampshire yesterday, only one reporter was on the ground to meet the campaign plane. Compare that with the nonstop coverage of Obama's overseas tour.

To illustrate this point the McCain campaign released the following Web video earlier today.

Videos: Watch part 1 | Watch part 2

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: The media's love affair with Barack Obama is all-consuming.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The feeling most people get when they hear of Barack Obama, I felt this thrill going up my leg. Well, I don't have that too often.

LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Almost hard to remain objective because it's infectious.

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Barack Obama.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Barack Obama.

CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Barack Obama.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know he's going to be very, very enthusiastically received in Europe. There's no down about that.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They can't wait. The media says it's like the Rolling Stones tour coming to town.

BLITZER: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: I love Frankie Valli.

Joining us tonight two people who are very familiar with presidential campaigns. Former Bush advisor Mary Matalin and former Clinton communications director and FOX News contributor, Howard Wolfson.

Mary, it's just a fact. There is more excitement around the Obama campaign than there is around the McCain campaign, yes or no?

MARY MATALIN, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: (SINGING) Alan, you're just too good to be true.

COLMES: You've a very nice voice, Mary.

MATALIN: You know, it has been like this. It's — actually they're becoming a parity of themselves. And I have to say I don't know how Howard got through the primaries. He stayed disciplined, he stayed loyal, he stayed on message.

The last time I saw them as bad as they were — previous as to how they were to Hillary and Obama in the primaries was, ironically, they did the same thing against Poppy Bush — George Herbert Walker Bush — in favor of a Clinton in 1992.

But when they fall, they fall hard, don't they?

COLMES: You know it seems to me, Howard, they want to blame the media, blame the messenger because McCain doesn't have a message. I mean that's — you know, his op-ed in the New York Times as simply a bashing of Obama. He wasn't willing to work with them to revise it.

Bill Clinton had seven pieces rejected even as president by the New York Times. So you know they're crying foul and yet the same rules apply to both candidates.

HOWARD WOLFSON, FMR. CLINTON COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, a couple of points. One it's ironic for the McCain campaign to be complaining about this given the fact that, I think, John McCain, prior to Barack Obama, got more positive press than anybody in the history of American politics.

I mean here's a guy who called the press corps his base. So John McCain is very well familiar with positive press coverage. Just the problem now is he's not getting as much of it, because, as you say, he's not running a great campaign.

Second point, Mary points out that in 1992, the press corps was perceived to be favorable to Bill Clinton. The Bush campaign, I remember, had bumper stickers saying annoy the media, vote for Bush.

That didn't work out very well. People aren't going to vote on those issues. Didn't work out well in 1992 and it's not going to work out well in 2008.

I think Barack Obama does get good press. But that's not going to be the reason why he is the next president. The reason why he's the next president is a lot bigger than that.

COLMES: Hey, Mary, do you think McCain is running a good campaign?

MATALIN: This is not 1992 and I'm not suggesting that annoy the media was what McCain should be doing, or he's had a strategy like that. But as Howard well knows — because this is what happened at his primary — when Senator Clinton did raise the specter of the uneven coverage, the hideously uneven coverage, then the press took a step back.

It's in the interest of the public that not just the fawning press covers up what Obama's really about. He never says anything, although he says nothing beautifully. It's the quantity as well. The few just reported. He's gotten a third more, more than a third — more coverage than McCain.

So it's drowning out McCain's message. The public is not going to have any opportunity to make the choice which is what the general election is about. So it's quantity and it's quality, it's tone. That's not what - - not just the New York Times should be.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey.

MATALIN: If the media is to be serving the public, they are not doing it in this case.

HANNITY: Mary, I'd argue that in 2008 we'll look back as the year that journalism officially dies in America. And that's why I'm surprised at your comments, Howard. You were complaining, Bill was complaining, Hillary was complaining about the fawning coverage, the unfair coverage that Barack Obama.

WOLFSON: Yes, and a lot good it did us, Sean.

HANNITY: Excuse me?

WOLFSON: I said and a lot good it did us. The bottom line is that elections are about who wins and who loses. And.

HANNITY: Yes — but, no, no, no. That's not the issue we're talking about tonight. I understand that. But the question is, is that if the three major networks in this country are going to send their three rock star anchors to go cover Barack Obama, isn't it fair that they send them with John McCain goes there?

If the New York Times is going to publish an op-ed by Barack Obama, shouldn't they publish John McCain's rebuttal a week later and not reject it?

WOLFSON: Well, look. The New York Times rejected Hillary Clinton's op-eds during the entire.

HANNITY: Not in the same circumstance.

WOLFSON: You know John McCain has a lot of ways to get his message out. The fact is he's not running a good campaign. I'm not going to sit here and argue that Barack Obama doesn't get good press.

HANNITY: I didn't ask you that, Howard.

WOLFSON: He does get good press.

HANNITY: I want you to answer this question.

WOLFSON: No, but — Sean, there is.

HANNITY: Is it fair? Is it fair, the coverage? You complained when you were running Hillary's campaign. Is this fair what the media is doing?

WOLFSON: No, I don't think that the media coverage has been equitable during this process. But that's not John McCain's biggest problem. John McCain's biggest problem is that he is on the wrong side of nearly every issue that Americans care about. And Barack Obama is simply running a better campaign than John McCain.

HANNITY: I will say this. It didn't take you long to switch, Howard. I can see you're right in there with Barack Obama's campaign.

COLMES: Who is he going to vote for, McCain?

HANNITY: But, Mary, this is basic fundamental fairness to me. You know if the three major networks — if they're going to send Katie Couric and Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, they ought to send them when John McCain goes. And that, to me, is as much evidence as we need about unfair coverage and that does influence the American people. It almost seems like a campaign contribution.

Is that a fair characterization?

MATALIN: That is more than fair. And it's not — just to isolate The New York Times. This is not just about the liberal op-ed page. The New York Times has put on its front page on numerous occasions, completely, baseless, pointless, substance-free anti-McCain stories.

When you're the paper of all that's fit to print or whatever their silly slogan is and you're running negative.

HANNITY: All the news that's fit to print.

MATALIN: All the news that's fit to print, and all you're reporting is negative news and you're making it up about a campaign, there's something wrong with it. And people did it. And that's why the mainstream media, particularly that kind of mainstream media, is held in such low regard.

This is a very important election. It is not appropriate and it does not serve the public for that information that provides voters an opportunity to make a choice. They can't make a choice if they only have one part of the puzzle.

HANNITY: Yes. Totally in the tank for Barack Obama.

Howard Wolfson, I would think you would continue your complaint. But it's only when they give favorable coverage.

WOLFSON: No, look, I am not.

HANNITY: . against your candidate that you're upset.

WOLFSON: There is no question that Barack Obama gets good media coverage. My advice to my friends in the McCain campaign is get over it. It is not going to help to you complain about it.

HANNITY: Why didn't you get over it when you were running Hillary's campaign?

WOLFSON: You know what? It didn't help us. The fact is when Hillary started to do well, she started to do well based on the issues, based on the substance.

HANNITY: All right.

WOLFSON: . based on the fact we're running a better campaign.

HANNITY: We'll take a break.

WOLFSON: That's what John McCain needs to do.

HANNITY: More with Mary and Howard coming up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: A new poll asks Americans if there is a legitimate media bias in play when it comes to Senator Obama. Here is what Rasmussen reports found.

Forty-nine percent think reporters have bent their coverage to favor Senator Obama. Only 14 percent believe that Senator McCain has enjoyed the same luxury. 24 percent of those polled classified the coverage as unbiased.

We continue now with Mary Matalin and Howard Wolfson here with us.

You know, for all the talk about this trip, Mary, fairly uneventful. I mean, he hasn't been in Iraq in 900 and some odd days. Never been to Afghanistan. He went in there with a position. He came out with the same position. He, obviously, can't alienate the left-wing base when he tried to say that refine his position and listen to the generals. He was excoriated for it.

What does that tell us about Barack Obama, the person?

MATALIN: Well, it tells us it's hard to know about who is the person. What it says is what kind of campaign they are running and it's a run-the- clock-out campaign. And their media strategy is to minimize exposure, uncontrolled exposure, minimize proximity to Senator McCain.

He won't do any more than the required debates. He won't do any town halls. And he wants to maximize the phoning. And he — it's just how he won the primary.

You know, when he got — Hillary got the "Des Moines Register" endorsement in Iowa, the press was all fawning on him. See, he has these big events but he is saying nothing.

HANNITY: Yes.

MATALIN: And we're going to wake up in mid-October some day and go oh my gosh, what's the choice here?

HANNITY: All right, let me ask you, Mary — first of all, I want to talk about VP stakes and then, Howard, we'll ask you for Barack Obama.

Lindsey Graham said that Mitt Romney is very much a contender. Seems that, you know, most speculation is moving towards Romney's direction.

Would that be a good choice and, if not Romney, who?

MATALIN: I — you know, I think Governor Romney would be great. Senator McCain — it's important for economic conservatives who are big part of the base. Need to be energized to have a reliable economic conservative there and a great campaigner and a great money raiser, and contrary to what Howard thinks that McCain people are running a good campaign.

HANNITY: Yes.

MATALIN: And he has good policy positions and he's got the security message down. He needs the economic piece of it. And Mitt Romney would do a great job there.

HANNITY: Bobby Jindal?

MATALIN: Who doesn't love Bobby? He is truly the second political coming of.

HANNITY: Yes.

MATALIN: . mainstream conservatism. But we don't want him to leave Louisiana.

HANNITY: I got you. He just moved back there.

All right, Howard, who would be a good choice? And I'm going to ask you a question I asked the last time: is Hillary Clinton being vetted? Do you think there's any chance she would be selected?

WOLFSON: Well, Barack Obama has said that he — she would be on anybody's short list so I suspect that they are, at least, thinking about her.

Look, I'm biased. I think she would be the best pick. I think if you united the 18 million who voted for her and the 18 million who voted for Barack Obama, you'd have a force that would be unstoppable.

It's not clear to me what they are going to do but I, you know, continue to believe that both in my heart and in my head that Hillary would be the best possible choice.

COLMES: Hey, let he rewind the tape a bit, Mary, because I didn't get the answer but I think you slipped it in the last comment you made.

You think John McCain is running a good campaign?

MATALIN: I think John McCain has come — when he is covered, is being very articulate and clear on conservative positions that we care about from (INAUDIBLE) and health care cost, energy.

COLMES: You mean the positions he didn't have prior to this campaign?

MATALIN: Was not in position to be answering all these national issues. He has got a good position on energy now, he's great on taxes. He's got market-based health care solutions. His security is — and he has all these leadership skills.

So this campaign — who he is, what he stands for is a marked contrast to Barack Obama who really is an empty vessel.

COLMES: Yes, but that was my question. Is his campaign — is he running a good, effective campaign, presenting a vision to the American people that is effective in terms of getting him where he needs to go?

MATALIN: Yes. Here's the vision. There are two — there are two forms of government. There is a centralized, controlled — command and controlled way of running the country. And there is a market-based, limited government, low taxes.

COLMES: Yes.

MATALIN: You call that old. The American people call that that's the way they want their government to run.

COLMES: Yes. Let me get Howard.

Howard?

WOLFSON: Yes, here's the vision. If you think that George Bush did a good job in the last eight years, then the vision is four more years of George Bush. That's the vision. And that's the reason why he is losing and it's the reason why the campaign is being run so badly.

It's because he has yoked himself to George Bush. I don't know why he's done it. He certainly wasn't doing it in 2000. If this was the John McCain of 2000, this would be a very different race and a very different conversation.

But this is a very different John McCain. He is going to do a third term of George Bush if he's elected and people just don't want it. They are not buying it.

COLMES: And Howard, they want to make it about Obama. They don't want to make it about John McCain and what he stands for, because that keeps changing. They want to make Obama the focus because that's the only way they can win the White House by collapsing Obama.

WOLFSON: Absolutely, I.

MATALIN: No, no, no. Look. It's a two-part thing. He has — Obama is a big risk. We don't know anything about him. We do know he'll be governing if he gets elected with an expanded margin in both chambers. And we know Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are liberals. The country does not want that.

COLMES: That point is for Howard. Do you want to response for a second before.

WOLFSON: Well, Yes. I was at an airport. The airport was selling t- shirts for McCain and Obama. The Obama t-shirts said "Change You Can Believe In." That's a slogan. Everybody knows it.

The John McCain t-shirt said "John McCain." Nobody knows what his slogan is.

COLMES: All right.

WOLFSON: Nobody knows what he's running on. Nobody knows what his message is.

COLMES: Gentlemen, Mr. Wolfson, Miss Matalin, we thank you very much.

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