Monday, July 28, 2008

"When a presidential campaign gets caught lying, it should be news"

Steve Benen (Carpetbagger Report) with video (00:32):
We talked yesterday about the new ad from the McCain campaign, which marked a new, dishonorable low in an already-embarrassing presidential campaign.
The 30-second spot features one deceptive claim after another.

Reporters no doubt realize that the scurrilous ad is a work of fiction, but as Greg Sargent noted today, news outlets are simply unwilling to pass this information along to the public.

CNN has a piece here, The New York Times has one here, The Washington Post has write-ups here and here, and the Associated Press has one here.

The stories did dutifully note the Obama camp’s push-back against the ad. But not a single one of these reports told you that the ad is false.

McCain’s ad makes a stark assertion about the reason the trip was canceled: “Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras.”

But there is no evidence whatsoever supporting this assertion. It’s false. That isn’t the reason the trip was canceled. Shouldn’t that be explicitly noted in stories about this?

Of course it should. It’s fine that the reporters sought out comment from the Obama campaign, but that’s the bare minimum. It creates a typical he-said/he-said story that pretends there are no objective truths at issue here. McCain launches an attack; Obama says the attack is false. Maybe reporters could help cut through the rhetoric and let voters know the truth?

Well, they could, except the truth has a liberal bias.

In case you missed it, here, once again, is the ad:

“Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan,” the ad’s announcer says. “He hadn’t been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops. McCain: Country first.” It concludes with the candidate’s voice: “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.”

There are eight sentences in this campaign commercial, and the only honest one was McCain approving of this message.

The claim about Senate hearings is wildly misleading. The attack about voting against funding the troops is ridiculous. The argument about Obama not spending time in Iraq is disingenuous. The notion that Obama would rather go to the gym than visit wounded troops is insane. The claim that Obama would only visit troops if he could bring cameras is an inflammatory, transparent lie. The notion that McCain is “always there for our troops” is demonstrably false.

I’m not trying to tell campaign reporters how to do their job. Actually, scratch that. I am trying to tell campaign reporters how to do their job.

The McCain campaign is airing an intentionally deceptive ad, hoping that a) voters won’t know the truth and can be easily misled; and b) the media won’t raise a fuss about the campaign lying to the public.

By refusing to do even the most basic level of fact checking, news outlets are encouraging the McCain campaign to engage in its most cynical and dishonorable tactics.



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