McCain's "Joe the Plumber" Flop; An NYT Photo Flop

Reporter Elisabeth Bumiller lingered lovingly over a McCain campaign flub involving no-show Joe the Plumber, a story accompanied by a photo of McCain talking only to himself. Obama, by contrast, got a crowd shot.

In her Friday filing from the McCain campaign, "In Ohio, McCain Is Everywhere Even if Joe the Plumber Isn't," Elisabeth Bumiller devoted severalcolorful paragraphs to a logistical flub. McCain called for Joe the Plumber (Joe Wurzelbacher) at a rally in Defiance, Ohio, only to find he wasn't there:

So, as Sandusky goes, so goes the nation, or so the McCain campaign hopes. To help, Mr. McCain enlisted Joe the Plumber, otherwise known as Samuel J. Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, the McCain campaign's embodiment of a small-business American everyman. But despite Mr. Wurzelbacher's newfound celebrity, he had something of a wobbly start on Thursday.

"Joe's with us today!" Mr. McCain called out at the rally at Defiance Junior High School. "Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today?"


"Joe, I thought you were here today," Mr. McCain continued, with dimmed enthusiasm.

Still nothing. The crowd murmured.

"All right," Mr. McCain said, realizing that Joe was nowhere to be found. "Well, you're all Joe the Plumbers!"

It turned out that Mr. Wurzelbacher, as he told CNN, had never received final confirmation from the McCain campaign that he was expected. The campaign, after watching Mr. McCain haplessly call out for Mr. Wurzelbacher on the cable networks, dispatched a car and rushed the plumber to Mr. McCain's next event, in Sandusky, where Mr. Wurzelbacher spoke.

The large photo accompanying Bumiller's story was a strange, birds-eye view of McCain's head as he spoke in Defiance, with four or five people (who could have been family, thoughfrom the overhead angle it's hard to tell) standing behind him. A local report suggested McCain attracted 10,000 on a cold day, yet the Times' choice of shot managed to avoid every single one of them. (The online version has a different photo from the print version referenced by Times Watch.)

By contrast, the photo for Jeff Zeleny's "Obama Plans a Four-Day Hunt for More Democratic Voters" showed the Democratic candidate greeted by a huge crowd at a stadium in Sarasota, Fla. The photo caption took care to note that it was "an area of the state dominated by Republicans."