As the means of communication have evolved, presidential campaigns have grown increasingly multifaceted, with each election featuring layers of complexity that were not present four years before. The most striking feature of the 2008 election may be the sheer volume and variation of the attacks being directed at Sen. Barack Obama. Though they come from many sources, arrive through a variety of media, and cover a wide range of subjects, a close examination reveals a unified thematic structure to these attacks.
In a relatively short period of time, media coverage of Palin has been plagued by myths and falsehoods that do not accurately or adequately reflect her opinions, positions, and record. Many of these myths and falsehoods have advanced the McCain campaign narrative that Palin is a tough-minded reformer, opposed to earmarks and pork-barrel spending, and bent on rooting out corruption.
In Free Ride: John McCain and the Media, David Brock and Paul Waldman show how the media have enabled McCain's rise from the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal to the underdog hero of the 2000 primaries to his roller-coaster run for the 2008 nomination. They illuminate how the press falls for McCain's "straight talk" and how the Arizona senator gets away with inconsistencies and misrepresentations for which the media skewer other politicians.