There’s some carping on the left accusing the McCain campaign of screening questioners on its conference calls so that he or his surrogates only get asked soft balls by preferred journalists. I have no idea whether or not this is true. There have been many occasions on which I wasn’t able to ask a question, which I find especially frustrating when the operator closes the call by saying “at this time there are no further questions.”
But I will say this. I have been called on a number of occasions, as have many other journalists on the right and left who have asked critical questions of McCain or his aides. Last month, Quin, a long-time critic of McCain, was called on during a conference call, and confronted McCain on his treatment of conservatives. On the same call, Townhall’s Matt Lewis grilled McCain on Juan Hernandez, his Hispanic outreach director who has been controversial on the right. Personally, I’ve gotten into a scrap with McCain over James Baker, and more recently, pointedly asked his top economic adviser, Doug Holz-Eakin, whether McCain would rule out raising taxes as part of a bipartisan compromise on Social Security (sadly, he wouldn’t).
McCain also reached out to allow liberal bloggers on the calls, and has received a number of critical questions from them.
But I’d like to know, how many conservative journalists are invited on Obama calls? I’ve only been on a few myself, but have never been able to ask a question. I have spoken to David Axelrod, but only when I’ve caught up with him at an Obama event or cornered him in the spin room following a debate, in which case I basically had to shout my question louder than other reporters.
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