In between the flurry of reports about New York governor Tom Spitzer being caught in a prostitution ring, the relationship between politicians and journalists is under the microscope. The US media has been indulging in a bit of navel gazing after The Scotsman dared to do the unthinkable (well, at least in the US) by running an off the record comment from an Obama staffer in which she called Hillary Clinton a monster.

The staffer has now been sacked — so was it the right thing to do? In a live interview MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson sniffed at Gerri Peev, the journalist with the scoop, suggesting that it was a bit rich to be lectured on journalistic ethics by a member of the British press. But The Scotsman reporter shot back, suggesting that if the US media has so far failed to report on the vying campaigns’ real feelings for each other then they’re not doing their job properly.

Glenn Greenwald in Salon agrees — “in one of the ultimate paradoxes, for American journalists — whose role in theory is to expose the secrets of the powerful — secrecy is actually their central religious tenet.” Meanwhile, Politico suggests that the apple-pie relationship between McCain and the media has not always been so touchy feely, and that the local sweet old Vietnam vet isn’t actually that, um, nice.

Take your VP and shove it: On Sunday’s Meet the Press, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who has endorsed Obama’s presidential run, called Clinton’s floating of Obama as VP a “really a rare occurrence — maybe the first time in history — that the person who is running number two would offer the person who is running number one the number two position.” — ABC News

Why McCain needs Condi: This space is usually devoted to pristine moral reasoning, but, hell, it’s an election year. Let’s get down and dirty. If McCain really wants to have it all—to refurbish his maverick image without having to flip-flop on the panderings that have tarnished it; to galvanize the attention of the press, the nation, and the world; to make a bold play for the center without seriously alienating “the base”—then he can avail himself of a highly interesting option: Condoleezza Rice. — Hertzberg, The New Yorker

‘Monster’ was off the record: I am surprised that there has been almost no comment on the journalistic ethics – or lack of them – that led to the resignation of Samantha Power as Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser. You may recall that she stepped down on Friday after it was reported that she had called Hillary Clinton a monster.– Greenslade, The Guardian

Playing chicken — who’ll blink?: We know Hillary is willing to go all the way to the convention, and if necessary, damage Obama’s candidacy with a destructive floor fight. Would Obama do the same thing? Does he have the same undeniable will to power and the willingness to put aside all considerations of decorum and party interest to fight for the nomination? I doubt it. And I imagine the Hillary people doubt it; they probably think they can stare Obama down in a monumental game of chicken, that ultimately he blinks and takes the number two slot. – Rich Lowry, National Review Online

Trippi on Dem deadlock: Last night, Democratic strategist Joe Trippi sat down to discuss the Democratic primary with New York’s John Heilemann from his home on the eastern shore of Maryland. The architect of Howard Dean’s 2000 primary insurgency, most recently a senior adviser to John Edwards’s campaign and a leading advocate for the “bottom-up” style of campaigning, which eschews big donors in favor of grassroots organizing and small donations fueled by the Internet, shared his thoughts on the current Clinton-Obama deadlock. — Heilemann, New York Magazine

McCain’s not that nice: John McCain made a bit of news on Friday because he did something he seldom does — he snapped at a reporter. McCain’s testy exchange with New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller was particularly striking because it goes against the grain of McCain’s normally cozy approach to the press. When he invited more than 40 journalists to join him at his Arizona ranch last weekend, the dominant storyline that emerged was how expertly McCain handles himself around a grill. — Politico

Clinton the zombie just won’t die: Part of the way through her fusillade, Clinton broke into a spasm of coughing––much of the campaign entourage of aides and press had been battered with the flu and other transmittable ailments––and then, briefly, she lost her voice. The audience fell silent. For a dramatic moment, it was unclear if she could continue. But Clinton righted herself and struggled through some lines about Darfur without losing her place. It was as if she had managed to suppress the coughing through sheer will. — Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

Peter Fray

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