The current media narrative is that John McCain is a straight-talking moderate Republican whose problem is appealing to conservatives.
The truth of the matter (acknowledged, for example, by George W. Bush) is that McCain is a conservative (in the debased modern meaning of that term) Republican — about as conservative as John Kerry is liberal — who occasionally strays from the reservation but has no reluctance to cut his conscience to fit the fashion (Bush tax cuts, televangelists, Confederate flag, immigration).
Now McCain has to decide whether to move toward the center for the general election or, instead, to appease the extremist faction within his party.
If journalists start asking the question “Will McCain buckle to the extremists?” rather than “Can McCain win over the conservatives?” he’s in a box from which he can’t escape. Since journalists seem unlikely to do so on their own (because McCain gives good quote), Democrats may want to help them along.