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The Coming Media Tantrum

Jon has some smart thoughts about the likely game of chicken that will pit McCain against the media in the struggle over whether we'll see a debate tomorrow night. Jon expects the networks to cave under the flogging of Steve Schmidt and that the debate will be called off, as everyone presumes McCain wants. (This assumes a solid bailout deal has been reached, as appears likely.)

I'm not so sure! We should at least consider the very selfish motives at work here. The media is extremely invested in this debate. As of this morning, CNN was airing ads pumping up its viewers for the big Obama-McCain debate. Hundreds of reporters have plane tickets and hotel rooms booked for tomorrow. (I was on NPR today with Dana Milbank, who said he fully intended to spend tomorrow night in Oxford.) Beyond the planning, expense, and infrastructure, debates are marquee moments for star anchors and pundits: On Hardball just now, Chris Matthews teased a panel discussion about tomorrow's debate, adding "we hope." Trying to cancel this thing will be like telling a 7-year old her birthday party's been cancelled. You can expect quite a tantrum, one that won't make it easy for McCain to stay home.

--Michael Crowley