Last week ABC News offered to exclusively air the first of the proposed town hall forums that the candidates agreed, in principle, to have during the general-election campaign.
Ultimately rejecting this offer, both campaigns insisted that any citizen-based town hall event had to be open to all television outlets, be available on the Internet, and not be sponsored or organized by a single news organization. Further the campaigns stressed that the town hall meeting would not be moderated by the press. Also interestingly, the forum being proposed for the general election is a Lincoln/Douglas-style event, which would also allow the candidates to address voters unfiltered and keep journalists on the sidelines, where they belong.
As Eric Boehlert over at Media Matters writes,
By smartly swatting down ABC's proposal, the message seemed clear: The campaigns want to get the media off the stage. Journalists are not the collective third candidate in this election, although at times it's obvious they consider themselves to be just as important as political leaders. That runaway narcissism has severely damaged the craft, and the campaigns have wisely decided to give the press a time-out.
I guess Obama and McCain learned the lessons of press failure 101 in baring witness to the massacring of Hillary Clinton. Smart move.