CNN and MSNBC: Not “The News?”

Today, the Times has a front-page profile of Barack Obama’s “body man,” Reggie Love. Seems like just yesterday I was reading the Times’ piece on John Kerry’s personal campaign trail sherpa, Marvin Nicholson, Jr., although that piece didn’t come with an US Weekly-like side-bar list of the candidate’s “Likes” and “Dislikes” (Obama Likes Nicorette and handmade milk chocolates; Obama Dislikes mayo and soft drinks). And what of the candidate’s media diet?

[Said Love]: “One cardinal rule of the road is, we don’t watch CNN, the news or MSNBC. We don’t watch any talking heads or any politics. We watch SportsCenter and argue about that.”

Why the distinction, I wonder, between CNN, MSNBC and “the news?”

And, how’s this for an image that sticks with you: at the end of a long day on the campaign trail, “Mr. Obama sometimes flosses his teeth to ESPN while lying down.”

If Nicholson’s and Love’s jobs are essentially identical (Mr. Nicholson was Kerry’s “chief of stuff,” Mr. Love describes his job as to “Take. Care. Of. Stuff.”), why — per the Times’ descriptions — does Love’s position somehow sound so much more appealing (or is it the individuals themselves, candidates included, who come off as more appealing)?

“Part Butler, Part Buddy, Aide Keeps Kerry Running,” was the headline on the Times’ 2004 Nicholson profile. “A social loner,” wrote the Times’ Jodi Wilgoren, Kerry “is happy with an aide half his age.”

Meanwhile Obama’s factotum, whom the Times describes as “cooler than the cool candidate,” is also much younger than the candidate— he’s “the kid brother [Obama] never had.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.