On Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough advanced the myth that Sen. John McCain hasn't flip-flopped on his position on immigration reform by asserting: "[T]here are a lot of issues that Republicans have despised John McCain for taking positions on. He stayed with those positions, and it makes him much stronger in the fall campaign because of it, and I speak mainly of illegal immigration." In response, co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Absolutely." Indeed, conservatives have praised McCain's rightward shift on the issue.
On ABC's This Week, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman claimed that Sen. John McCain "actually stepped out and was much more forward-leaning on immigration reform than Barack Obama was -- Senator Clinton wasn't involved in those negotiations." Host George Stephanopoulos did not point out that McCain abandoned his previous support for comprehensive immigration legislation during his campaign for the Republican nomination.
In an article on immigration as a campaign issue, the Chicago Tribune reported that Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain "essentially agree on the need for an overhaul of U.S. Immigration law that would combine increased border enforcement with a new guest-worker program and measures to permit the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country to eventually apply for citizenship." In fact, McCain has said he "would not" support his original comprehensive immigration proposal if it came to a vote on the Senate floor and now says that "we've got to secure the borders first."
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney stated in a March 24 online piece that aides to Sen. John McCain "are beginning to see a general election upside ... to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries." However, Nagourney did not mention that McCain reacted to those perceived "problems" by abandoning his own comprehensive immigration reform plan.
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN correspondent Louise Schiavone falsely asserted that in votes cast last week, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "said no to additional funding for border security, immigration enforcement, and deportation of criminal aliens." Additionally, Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that Obama and Clinton are "not for border security."
Lou Dobbs claimed on his radio show that "illegal immigration" is among "the top three issues for American voters in both political parties." In fact, no recent polls support Dobbs' assertion that "voters in both political parties" consider illegal immigration "one of the top three issues," although some polls indicate that immigration is among the top issues for Republican voters.
On The Beltway Boys, Morton Kondracke asserted that Sen. John McCain "may well" be able to "match George Bush's 2004 record of 40 percent" of the Hispanic vote "because he's got a position on comprehensive immigration reform that's humanitarian." But McCain asserted on January 30 that he "would not" support his original comprehensive immigration proposal if it came to a vote on the Senate floor and now says that "we've got to secure the borders first" -- a position at odds with his prior assertion that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective.
The New York Times' Mark Leibovich asserted that the "conventional wisdom" that Sen. John McCain would be "done in by immigration in the Republican primaries" in 2008 "Proved to Be False." But Leibovich did not mention that McCain may have avoided being "done in" by the immigration issue by reversing his position to align himself with the Republican base.
The Des Moines Register asserted that Sen. John McCain is a "supporter of comprehensive immigration reform" without noting that he now says he would not support his bill if it came up for a vote in the Senate, and that he has reversed himself on a key issue. Similarly, the Associated Press reported that "[t]he three leading candidates for president have somewhat similar views on illegal immigration reform," but did not note McCain's reversals.
In an article about Sen. John McCain's general election strategy, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCain's advisers "believe his work on the controversial immigration legislation that included a path to citizenship for many of the nation's illegal immigrants will provide an inroad to Latino voters, particularly in the Golden State." But McCain no longer supports the "controversial immigration legislation" attributed to him -- he now says that "we've got to secure the borders first," and that he would vote against his own comprehensive immigration bill if it came to the Senate floor.
A New York Times Week in Review piece stated: "Senator John McCain, the early Republican front-runner whose championing of the bill [Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007] had made him look soft on illegal immigration, faded in the polls," adding that now McCain has "emphasized border security more than the Democrats have." But the article didn't mention that this "emphasi[s]" on border security is at odds with his previous position.
After citing "illegal immigration" as "the issue with which John McCain is weakest among conservatives," CNN's John King said that members of McCain's presidential campaign "say they will not pander to the talk radio community and that if there is there's backlash from that community, maybe independents will say this guy truly is a maverick, he truly is independent." But King did not note that McCain has reversed his position on immigration to more closely conform to the views of the GOP base.
A Wall Street Journal article asserted that "[w]hile Sen. [John] McCain has shifted his emphasis, talking more now about 'securing the border first,' he remains committed to the broad strokes of his original approach [on immigration reform]." And the Washington Post editorial board wrote that McCain has made "what amounts to only a mild shift in emphasis in his longstanding position." However, McCain's current position -- that the borders must be secured before other reforms can be addressed -- is a reversal of his prior position; McCain previously argued that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. Moreover, he now says that he would not support his own legislation if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
NBC's David Gregory stated: "John McCain is not going to pander to the right. He did that once and it didn't work." The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan both agreed, asserting: "He's not going to do it." In fact, McCain has attempted to satisfy conservative Republicans by reversing his positions on issues such as taxes, immigration, and the religious right.