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John McCain: warrior, Senator, patriot, man

Sunday, 26 August, 2018

The gallant old warrior, John McCain, who served America with such distinction and honour, is no more. He died yesterday aged 81. Senator John McCain was a patriot who believed in his bones that America was exceptional, and it is exceptional because of people like him.

In the coming days, it will be instructive to study the waves of admiration that wash over the legacy of the man who fought Hanoi Jane Fonda’s hero, Ho Chi Minh. And if we fast-forward from 1967 in Vietnam, where he was a prisoner of war, to 2008, when he was running for the presidency of the USA, we can learn a lot from how the media treated John McCain then and how the media operate today. Consider the role of that bastion of liberal ideals, The Atlantic.

Its October 2008 cover story was titled “Why War is His Answer – Inside the Mind of John McCain” and the author was one Jeffrey Goldberg. But because a picture is worth more than ten thousand of Goldberg’s words, the role of the snapper hired to do the (hit) job on McCain tells us as much as we need to know. The operative was Jill Greenberg, who styles herself as @jillmanipulator on Twitter, and here’s how she deployed her manipulative skills to take the photo that so tarnished the McCain campaign:

When The Atlantic called Jill Greenberg, a committed Democrat, to shoot a portrait of John McCain for its October cover, she rubbed her hands with glee…

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

So, when you hear any of this lot eulogising the late John McCain, take note that they were again him before they were for him.

John McCain


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