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Defining Press Coverage Down

Last night I caught MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell chatting about the media's valiant "pushback" against Sarah Palin's handler's attempts to keep journalists away from its gal yesterday as Palin did her deb with various world leaders. Mitchell and Maddow were understandably annoyed by the McCain campaign, but proclaimed themselves "heartened" by the spine showed when the networks threatened to pull their cameras--thus ruining the Palin team's happy little "photo spray"--if the campaign indeed refused to allow even one editorial producer into the meetings. Faced with possible mutiny, the campaign relented, chalking the whole thing up to a "mix-up."

Except that it didn't really relent. As I understand it, one non-photo journalist was allowed into Palin's various meetings for somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds each. Seriously? This is considered a victory for a free press? Sure, a bunch of media outlets later publicly snarked about the campaign's desperation to shelter Palin. But the cameras still went in, the campaign still got its smiley photo ops, and the attendant news reports offered us no real info about how these meetings went. I'm sorry, but this pale "push back" strikes me as cause more for rioting than for celebration.

Exactly how low has the Fourth Estate's expectations sunk in recent years?

--Michelle Cottle