The Crock Of Silence
by Todd Beeton, Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 07:04:27 AM EDT
Look, it's no shock that John McCain had been given a heads up about the questions he'd be asked by Rick Warren during Saturday night's forum at Saddleback church. The way McCain sort of stared into space pretending to really be thinking about his answers... please, he's not that good an actor. And sure enough yesterday on CNN Rick Warren admitted there was no cone of silence at all.
From Nate Silver:
Warren was just interviewed by CNN's Rick Sanchez, and apparently told him that McCain was not in the church during the first half-hour of Obama's segment. (I did not see the segment myself, nor does a transcript or video yet seem to be available). Sanchez has now suggested that Warren implied to him that he (Warren) thought McCain was in the "cone of silence" when he told the audience as much, but later learned that McCain was not.
Which was confirmed by McCain advisor Rick Davis in a diversionary tactic memo to NBC News complaining about biased reporting by Andrea Mitchell:
The fact is that during Senator Obama's segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed.
Which is also now being reported by The New York Times.
The thing is, as Nate Silver points out, McCain's being in a motorcade and then in a green room hardly precludes him from having access to the questions, whether it be via cellphone, radio, close captioned TV feed, etc. But the McCain campaign would simply have us take John McCain at his word since, well, he doesn't like to talk about this much, but, you see...
"The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous," Ms. Wallace said.
This may be the most we're going to get out of camp McCain unless Rick Warren makes some news on Larry King tonight. But in the meantime, Tom Tomorrow catches William Kristol once again trying to remove foot from mouth in his column about the cone of silence.
Update [2008-8-18 11:28:2 by Todd Beeton]:More from Rachel Sklar at HuffPo:
The issue, of course, isn't whether or not he cheated, but whether he could have cheated. The cone of silence was meant to ensure that the second candidate had no possible advantage over the first. It is a time-honored tradition, from its coinage on TV show Get Smart to a reference on Everybody Loves Raymond to numerous game shows through history.
McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace, told the NYT that McCain had not heard the broadcast while in the motorcade, nor had he any of the questions. That neatly accounts for just one way McCain might have learned the content of the questions; the event was being broadcast live, and presumably his aides have Blackberries. Coaching could have taken place without McCain hearing anything directly from the broadcast at all.
This is not meant to make the claim that McCain received information relating to Warren's questions to Obama, just that he could have done, since the constraints of the cone of silence were not in effect. Those constraints were pointedly put in place by Pastor Warren to provide an excplicit safeguard of fairness, and it was reported to the audience as such. The fact that such a safeguard might not have been universally applied is a relevant fact...