US media worships, above all, US militarism. It's our civic religion. John McCain is the most prominent avatar of this militarism. Note what he focuses in on here: There are partisan "differences" but so long as we all got together and protected US imperial interests all is well. pic.twitter.com/cBueMxanDF
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) August 25, 2018
While major news outlets broke into programming to bring viewers word of his death on Saturday evening, a few journalists like Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone offered accounts of McCain's life that went beyond myopic hagiography.
Anti-war activists like CodePink's Medea Benjamin, who knew his policy record well and stood proudly against it, offered their condolences:
.@SenJohnMcCain called me a low life scum. I took it as a compliment coming from a man who bombed Vietnamese, pushed for war in Iraq, called for bombing of Iran and supported the Saudi destruction of yemen. RIP
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) August 26, 2018
But journalist Jon Schwarz took note of the many millions of people in countries where McCain waged or advocated for war who had reasons not feel warm, fuzzy, or instinctively mournful by the news:
It’s easy to feel great respect and admiration for John McCain as long as you believe that Vietnamese, Iraqis, Yemenis, etc., etc. aren't human
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) August 25, 2018
Meanwhile, media critics Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson offered this pre-spin news brief—titled "Don't Let the Media Erase McCain's Far Right Legacy"—as a warning against the inevitable narrative that will dominate the coming days in which efforts to venerate the lawmaker will steadfastly ignore the sizeable and documented damage his political career left in his wake:
"McCain has passed," Shirazi and Johnson write. "Don't let the media forget the thousands of Arabs and Asians he helped displace, injure or kill. Their lives mattered too."
And in a separate tweet, Johnson recognized that it's "a reasonable human instinct to not want to say bad things about people who just passed," but added that "major historical figures aren't your friends' grandmother, they carry mountains of ideological baggage and sanctifying them is an inherently political act and it's childish to act otherwise."