Greetings US election followers! We’re happy to announce that our US correspondent Guy Rundle has started filing exclusive video reports from the US campaign trail. Last week he was at Netroots Nation – the high profile annual gathering of leftwing bloggers and online activists.

See Rundle’s interview with Daily KOS blogger Elise below.


See Rundle’s interview with Jim Hightower, publisher of Hightower Lowdown below.

And now.. on with the media wrap!

Media bias towards Obama? The news that the New York Times had published an op ed piece by Barack Obama but declined to run John McCain’s rebuttal has had the GOP shouting media bias. Now, one step away from taunting his rival with the line “wooo oooh lurvers”, the McCain campaign has launched a feature on their website lampooning the media’s love of Obama:

National Review Online  has written up an interesting piece on an hour-long panel of political anchors run by CNN on the issue. Panellists agreed that Obama is getting around twice as much press coverage as McCain. But rather than a pro-Obama bias, NRO declares the Obama coverage to be the result of “anti-substance” bias rather than a pro-Obama bias:

“Gergen’s considered advice was that the McCain campaign needs more — and cleverer — dog and pony shows to attract and dazzle the media. This is the advice of a former advance man, to be sure. It is awful advice, if you think that democracy depends on informed citizens who make reasoned judgements about leadership abilities, experience, and judgement, let alone the substance of policies. It is excellent advice if you think that this race is being treated like a reality show, with the media as judges of performances that will sell. It is worth pointing out, of course, that even American Idol, with its faux democracy, only picks a winner who manages to go on to commercial success very intermittantly. And yet, the media, and perhaps many of our fellow citizens, seem to be looking more for an American Idol than for a President.” — National Review Online

McCain’s anti-messiah strategy. We reported yesterday on the McCain’s camp’s latest ad blaming Obama and his policies for rising petrol prices. Today The Plank had an intersesting take on the ad, saying it shows the GOP is attempting to use one of Obama’s greatest strengths – his popularity — against him:

“Yes, it’s ostensibly an attack–a very misleading attack–on Obama for high gas prices. But note the strange buzz in the background at the beginning of the ad that gradually resolves into a chant of “Obama! Obama!” I think the ad is as much about Obama’s devoted supporters (creepily devoted in the McCain campaign’s telling) as it is about energy policy. Republicans have become expert at taking an opponent’s strength and turning it into a weakness–from Al Gore’s wonkery to John Kerry’s war record. And now it looks as if they’re going to try to do the same thing with Obama and his popularity.” — The New Republic

Obama’s overseas fan club. Americans sick of George W. Bush trashing their reputation overseas may be dreaming if they think that Obama’s love affair with the world abroad would continue once he reaches the White House, writes David Aaronovitch in The Times . “There isn’t an American president since Eisenhower who hasn’t ended up, at some point or other, being depicted by the world’s cartoonists as a cowboy astride a phallic missile.” — The Times

McSexist. McCain’s war on women. “The chatter about the voting decisions of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supporters continues. Much of the recent talk has focused on PUMAs (the acronym stands for “Party Unity My Ass”), a group supposedly so angry about the Democratic primary that they won’t vote for Barack Obama. But as blogger Amanda Marcotte reported, PUMA PAC was started by a McCain donor, according to the Federal Election Commission. — In These Times

Liberal blogwars. The leftwing political blogosphere in the US is continuing to punch on, and according to the American Power blog, the Daily KOS has successfully applied its “bullying totalitarianis” to get an unfavourable front page story about last week’s Netroots blogging convention removed from the website of the Austin American-Statesman . The paper ran an apology, too, saying in part:

“Our front-page story Sunday about the Netroots Nation convention included doses of irony and exaggeration. It made assertions (that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might find herself at home politically in Beijing, for example) and characterizations (“marauding liberals” was one) meant to amuse. For many readers, we failed. In trying for a humorous take on the Netroots phenomenon without labeling it something other than a straightforward news story, we compromised our standards. ”

Or, as the American Power post put it, “I guess that’s it then. No more room for irony in serious journalism.”

Starbucks Democrats . So maybe the American equivalent of a chardonnay socialist is a starbucks democrat? Here’s an entertaining article from the Weekly Standard which seeks to extrapolate from what the coffee choices of the campaign camps choose say about them and their supporters. So the media blasted the Hillary campaign when reports surfaced that it spent $1,200 in a single month at Dunkin’ Donuts. At the time, Gerard Baker wrote a brilliant article about what coffee preferences revealed about the Democratic primary: ‘Among voters whose voting choice is not based on identity politics, Mr Obama’s supporters are the latte liberals. These are the people for whom Starbucks, with its $5 cups of coffee and fancy bakeries, is not just a consumer choice but a lifestyle. They not only have the money. They share the values.'” The Weekly Standard

The candidates dine out. The venerable Wall Street Journal has a fluffy but fun look at the candidate’s taste in food and restaurants. What does it say about them as men and politicians? “At the very least, we believe that a candidate’s taste in food is a more reliable indicator of character than the carefully strained statements issued in the current atmosphere of gotcha and gotcha back. So we have worked our sources and come up with the names of the candidates’ favorite restaurants in their home states. We have tried them out and assessed what an appetite for their particular offerings might mean about two men with a 50-50 chance at spending the next four years ordering meals from the White House chef.” — WSJ

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