If like me you thought the President's debate performance was masterful and convincing, hold that thought. Hold it tightly. The mainstream media are going to try their darnedest to shake it loose.
In St. Louis tonight, Chris Matthews said something honest and instructive, which may never happen again so I guess I’m lucky that I witnessed it. I avoid Matthews as if he were a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus, but his post-debate panels are a useful indicator of how well John Kerry fulfilled the expectations of the left. Matthews asked the crowd framing the MSNBC outdoor set, most waving Kerry-Edwards signs, if they thought John Kerry won the debate (loud cheers) or whether it was a draw (a show of few hands). He asked one of the “drawers” how he arrived at his conclusion. When the young man responded weakly, Matthews cut him short and said, “Oh, you’re like me. When your guy doesn’t do well, you call it a draw.”
This strategy is a harbinger of spin to come, which apparently will spotlight the moment when President Bush brushed off Charlie Gibson. We will hear about Bush’s rudeness and swagger and temper. The liberal media refuse to credit Bush with a victory, so look for the herd mentality to coalesce in time for the Sunday news programs and to declare it a draw by consensus.
If you want to know where the Kerry war room is located, check the press box. Just prior to the debate Matt Drudge posted a memo allegedly written by Mark Halperin, essentially a permission slip for ABC News staff to be unfair and unbalanced in their coverage of Bush in the final weeks of the campaign.
Bush's performance was marked by humor and confidence, the absence of which cost him a victory last week and probably more. This time he kept Kerry on the defensive about his record and inconsistencies for approximately 75 of 90 minutes. Like Bill Clinton in many regrettable ways, Kerry is thin-skinned when his reputation and credibility are challenged. He seemed rattled by some tough questions from the audience and Bush's relentless aggressiveness.
Watching the debate, I was struck by how Bush won over the room. He owned it. The camera captured it and we saw it. Now the liberal media are going to deny it, the same media that let John Kerry lie with impunity.
What happened tonight in Missouri revealed more cracks in the pillars of the Old Media. We expect the party of Clinton and McAuliffe to try to steal the presidential election. We do not expect and must not allow the press to lay down their responsibility and ethics to join them.