I agree with Politico's John Harris and Jim Vanderhei that the charges of media bias against the McCain campaign are exaggerated. On the other hand, no one ever went broke overestimating the media's capacity for offhand condescension, as witness these excerpts from the transcript that ABC published of Elizabeth Vargas' interview with Sarah Palin:
ELIZABETH VARGAS: If it doesn't go your way on Tuesday … 2012?
GOV SARAH PALIN: I'm just … thinkin' that it's gonna go our way on Tuesday, November 4….
… PALIN: Absolutely not. I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we've taken, that … that would … bring this whole … I'm not doin' this for naught.
…PALIN: Well, I think that people can … can read the comments and hear the comments that he made, because again, the, the refreshing thing about that tape being revealed … from 2001… it's candidness there. It's not … it didn't seem to be his typical scripted, kinda … rhetorical message read off a TelePrompter.
Now you wouldn't expect the transcribers to photoshop Palin's anacolutha and false starts (though I don't think the public's need for full information would be compromised if they cleaned up a repeated "the" here and there). But do they imagine that Palin is the only one of the candidates who drops a g now and again, much less says kinda for kind of or gonna for going to? And if you want to hear condescension compounded, listen to Wolf Blitzer having a Tina Fey moment as he reads from the Vargas interview transcript and dutifully drops Palin's g's where indicated.
It's true that Palin works her g-dropping for effect, as I noted in an earlier post. But then so do Biden, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even McCain on occasion. And even if she's more ostentatious about it than they, there's no call for rendering it in transcriptions. It's a device that suggests speech that's uneducated or nonstandard, akin to eye-dialect (e.g., writing sez for says and wuz for was). And in its small way, it seems to confirm the right's picture of elite media types who look down on ordinary Joes (Sixpack, Blow, or Plumber, as the case may be).
In this connection, Bill Labov has observed that our perception of variable processes like g-dropping is categorical: when people do it a little, we don't perceive it; if they do it a bit more, they seem to be doing it all the time. Which may explain ABC's heading for one video segment: "Palin: 'Not Callin' Out Obama." As it happens, though, when you listen to the video, it turns out that Palin didn't actually drop the g on calling.