How does John McCain manage to garner such positive media attention? Jonathan Martin answers this question at the Politico blog:
So much has been written about McCain's relationship with the media that it is hard to say anything fresh. But McCain's way of engaging with journalists is so different from that of other candidates that it is worth dwelling on it for a moment. On a typical campaign trip, time with the candidate — "the principal," in campaignspeak — is severely restricted. Anytime a typical candidate agrees to speak to the press, it's a big deal, and journalists are often competitive about access and proximity. Because candidates speak so infrequently their words take on added importance, and journalists spend much of their time trying to trip candidates up or force them to say something that will make news. For the candidate, a press conference is often a matter of avoiding mistakes, more than a chance to communicate a message to the public. None of this is true with McCain. He engages journalists at every opportunity. He speaks informally and does not labor over his words. He is quick with a joke and likes to make fun of the reporters covering him. He sometimes says that he does not want to talk about a subject, but this is rare, and chances are good that if you ask him again an hour or two later, he will answer your question. More often, he talks about things that other politicians prefer to avoid.
So, there you have it. McCain engages the media. He treats members of the press corps as human beings. He remains accessible. He's conversational; he jokes; he seems real.