In an interview with Mike Huckabee, MSNBC's Alex Witt identified televangelist John Hagee, who has endorsed Sen. John McCain for president, only as an "evangelist" who is "based in San Antonio," and did not note Hagee's numerous controversial statements on such topics as homosexuality, Islam, Catholicism, and women.
In an interview with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on the February 29 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Alex Witt noted that televangelist John Hagee had endorsed Sen. John McCain for president, and asked Huckabee: "He's based in San Antonio, Texas, and you know that he endorsed [Sen.] John McCain in his run for the White House. So how did he explain his decision to back the Arizona senator?" Witt identified Hagee only as an "evangelist" who is "based in San Antonio," and did not note Hagee's numerous controversial statements on such topics as homosexuality, Islam, Catholicism, and women. For example, asked during an interview with NPR's Terry Gross whether he believed that "all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews," Hagee replied: "Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly." Following Hagee's endorsement, McCain said, "All I can tell you is I'm very proud to have pastor Hagee's support."
As Media Matters documented, on at least nine different occasions on February 27, MSNBC either aired or discussed an exchange from the February 26 Democratic presidential debate in which moderator Tim Russert, NBC's Washington bureau chief, repeatedly questioned Sen. Barack Obama about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan -- whose statements Obama had previously denounced and whose support Obama said during the debate he "would reject and denounce."
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the February 29 edition of MSNBC Live:
WITT: Let's talk, though about the evangelist, John -- is it Haggee or Hagee, how do you --
HUCKABEE: John Hagee.
WITT: OK. He's based in San Antonio, Texas, and you know that he endorsed John McCain in his run for the White House. So how did he explain his decision to back the Arizona senator?
HUCKABEE: Well, I think he has to explain it, and I think it's going to be a real challenge, because Senator McCain supports human embryonic stem-cell research, does not support the Human Life Amendment, has expressed support in the past for same-sex marriage. And I think that's -- you know, those are all issues that are very problematic to many conservatives. His support for an amnesty provision on the borders, those are -- you know, his lack of support for a federal marriage amendment. Those are issues that have been problems for Senator McCain. I don't know how to speak for Pastor Hagee. He's a friend. I was shocked and disappointed by his decision, but you know what, he has one vote and I'm going to believe that there are a whole lot of people in Texas who will vote their own principles and conscience. They're not going to vote politics, they're not going to vote what the pundits have told them is the inevitable. They're going to vote what they believe in. And Texas is particularly a state where people are stubbornly independent. They have their own convictions. They don't want to be told by somebody in New York or Washington what they're going to do and they may just bow up and surprise everybody Tuesday, and that's what I'm counting on.
WITT: OK, let's talk about these big Republican contests next week. Texas, Ohio, those being the states there, both in which you are trailing John McCain at this point. What are you going to do between now and then, other than be exhausted running around trying to get your message out?