Political Capital with John Harwood

Memo To Candidates: Stop All The Whining About The Press

One of the familiar themes of modern day politics is whining about the role of the press. Losing candidates often resort to this as an explanation for their lagging performance.

We've heard it plenty from Hillary Clinton's campaign, which says the press has been too hard on her and too easy on Barack Obama. We heard it from Obama--after he lost Ohio and Texas to Clinton. We've heard it from various of John McCain's rivals, who say he benefits from a friendly press corps. We heard it from obscure candidates in both parties, who say if only the press paid attention they'd go better at the polls.

Well, guess what? The twists and turns of this campaign have gone a long way toward debunking all that whining.

Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary despite all that unfair press coverage--and came back with a vengeance on March 4 despite an avalanche of press reports casting her campaign on the brink of extinction. Reporters didn't craft the Hillary Clinton "3 a.m. ad."

Barack Obama won Wyoming and Mississippi despite all the press reports of his adviser Samantha Power's reference to Clinton as a "monster."

John McCain's friends in the press largely wrote him off for dead after he ran out of cash last year. His friends at the New York Times wrote a tough story about his relationship with a lobbyist. he has won the republican nomination anyway.

And who was the other finalist in the GOP sweepstakes? Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who got very little press coverage and few campaign donations while McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson dominated the 2007 headlines.

The lesson of all this: we in the press cover the events of the campaign, we don't create them.

Questions?  Comments?  Write to politicalcapital@cnbc.com.