Washington, Sep 23 : Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign and his supporter at a rally have separately accused the press of favoring his Democratic rival Barack Obama.
McCain's top strategist called The New York Times (NYT) a "pro-Obama advocacy organization," FOX News reported.
"Let's be clear and be honest with each other about something fundamental to this race, which is this: Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not - by any standard - a journalistic organization," strategist Steve Schmidt told reporters on a conference call.
"It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Sarah Palin and excuses Senator Obama," he added.
Schmidt accused the Times of giving Obama a pass on his "deceitful ads" and abdicating its journalistic responsibility to vet Obama's "background and past statements."
It was an unusually harsh critique for a campaign that last year enjoyed largely favorable press coverage.
"This is an organization that is completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate," Schmidt fumed.
Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, issued a written statement responding to Schmidt's broadside.
"The New York Times is committed to covering the candidates fully, fairly and aggressively," Keller wrote.
"It's our job to ask hard questions, fact-check their statements and their advertising, examine their programs, positions, biographies and advisers. Candidates and their campaign operatives are not always comfortable with that level of scrutiny, but it's what our readers expect and deserve," the statement said.
The exchange came on a day when one woman in the audience at a McCain event in Scranton, Pa., grabbed a microphone, turned toward the assembled press and accused the journalists of liberal bias.