McCain likes to boast about his “straight talk” brand, claiming that he will answer difficult questions with straight answers, but it looks like this claim is just PR.
Candidates all hold conference calls with reporters, sometimes on a daily basis. Conference calls are like press conferences, but held on the phone. But it appears that McCain’s campaign is only taking questions in these calls from friendly reporters. What kind of straight talk is that?
Reporters who have been less than flattering to McCain report that they are never called on to ask questions during the conference calls, and one even was asked to leave a call (even though they had not asked a question). The McCain campaign has been asked if they are screening reporters during the conference calls, but their response is disingenuous, and the campaign has yet to deny that they are doing it. In contrast, the Obama campaign (and even the now mothballed Clinton campaign) strongly denied any screening of reporters.
In addition, a 61-year-old librarian was arrested at a “public” McCain event in Denver because she had a sign that read “McCain = Bush”. Recall that in 2005, the White House had three activists expelled from an event in Denver, which seems to prove the librarian’s point.
UPDATE: In his book, McCain wrote that:
I would henceforth accept every single request for an interview from any source, prominent or obscure, and answer every question as completely and straightforwardly as I could. … It is a public relations strategy that I have followed to this day, and while it has gotten me in trouble from time to time, it has on the whole served both my interest and that of the public well.