From an insider and longtime friend of the site ...
Either McCain's vetting process was a complete sham. Or his press operation is the worst in modern presidential politics history. Or some unholy blend of both.
Campbell Brown isn't the story - people are underestimating her, as they always have. No, the story is that Tucker Bounds went on national television without material to answer what is maybe the simplest, most straightforward follow-up question any reporter can ask: "What's your evidence for that assertion?" And I suspect that the reason they canceled Larry King is not to punish CNN (it doesn't work that way) it's that they still couldn't come up with an answer to the question by the time his show aired.
Now look at this comment from McCain honcho Steve Schmidt to Katie Couric last night: "Members of this campaign went to off-the-record lunches with reporters today, and they were asked if she would do paternity tests to prove paternity for her last child. Smear after smear after smear, and it's disgraceful and it's wrong. And the American people are going to reject it overwhelmingly when they see her."
First of all, that's the first time I've heard anyone in the campaign/political press throw out the notion of paternity tests. So Schmidt is to blame for bringing that issue into the mainstream. If anyone is smearing the candidate, it's Schmidt. This is as cynical a tactic as I've ever seen in politics.
Secondly, how can it be a "smear" if it was during an off the record lunch with McCain campaign aides?
Thirdly, hey, colleagues, you're on notice: Steve Schmidt does not respect "off the record." Watch your backs, my friends.