COMMENTS: McCain Advisor Gramm Complains About Whining

For the second straight day John McCain was Story of the Day. Wednesday, the Republican Presidential candidate himself set the agenda, granting interviews to all three of the network anchors. Now, McCain finds himself thrust into the spotlight by the words of his senior economic advisor. Phil Gramm, the onetime GOP senator from Texas, told The Washington Times that the economic slowdown was being exaggerated in the public imagination by a "nation of whiners." McCain immediately repudiated Gramm's words, joking that such comments qualify him for the post of Ambassador to Belarus. ABC led with Gramm's comments; NBC selected the continuing economic woes of the airline industry; CBS kicked off with the Food & Drug Administration and its inability to isolate the cause of this spring's salmonella outbreak.

McCain's damage control after Gramm's comments and Barack Obama's sarcastic riposte that the United States does not need a second Dr Phil were covered by NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and ABC's David Wright. In a gesture of evenhandedness, NBC paired Gramm's comments with those by Obama backer Jesse Jackson Wednesday--although Jackson's expressed desire to castrate Obama hardly qualifies as the words of a backer. Lee Cowan observed that Jackson's words may have succeeded in differentiating Obama from the civil rights leader, his fellow Chicagoan. NBC political director Chuck Todd speculated to Cowan that the rift may be a positive inasmuch as Jackson is "a polarizing figure." CBS did not assign a reporter to either Gramm or Jackson, but had political analyst Jeff Greenfield debrief anchor Katie Couric on both.


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