McCain set the record straight after being misquoted by conservatives smearing Kerry

››› ››› NICOLE CASTA

Despite conservative claims to the contrary, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was not quoted in an article in the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S. News & World Report as saying that Senator John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was "the most effective propaganda [his North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us." On the September 5 edition of ABC's This Week, McCain set the record straight by stating that he is not quoted as mentioning Kerry in the article and he did not "recall ever hearing John Kerry's name while ... in prison [in Vietnam as a POW]." McCain went on to say that he didn't want his 1973 statement to be used by the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign against Kerry.

Here's how conservatives have been misrepresenting McCain's 1973 statement:

  • Cal Thomas, nationally syndicated columnist and FOX News Channel host, in his August 9 column, which appears in more than 550 newspapers and on the conservative Heritage Foundation's website Townhall.com:

    Yet McCain has criticized Kerry's anti-war activities. In a May 14, 1973, issue of U.S. News and World Report, McCain wrote that testimony by Kerry and others before Sen. J. William Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee was "the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us."

  • The Washington Times, in an August 31 editorial:

    [A]s columnist Cal Thomas recently reported in The Washington Times, Mr. McCain, who spent five and a half years in Vietnam enduring torture as a prisoner of war (POW), charged in the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S. News & World Report that Mr. Kerry's testimony was "the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us."

  • Sean Hannity, in a discussion on the August 24 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes about Kerry's criticism of the Vietnam War after his return from service there (as previously documented by Media Matters for America): "Senator McCain said that that was some of the worst propaganda."

  • Les Kinsolving, talk radio host and White House correspondent for Talk Radio Network and for conservative news website WorldNetDaily.com, in an August 21 WorldNetDaily column:

    And as for Sen. John McCain, didn't he write in U.S. News and World Report's edition of May 14, 1973, that John Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was: "The most effective propaganda (my North Vietnamese captors) had to use on us"?

  • Right-wing news website NewsMax.com, in an August 5 article in its "Inside Cover" section, edited by Carl Limbacher:

    In piece [sic] he wrote for the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S. News & World Report, the POW-turned-senator charged that testimony by Kerry and others before J. William Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Committee was "the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us."

  • David N. Bossie, discredited conservative author (as MMFA has documented), on page 61 of his book, The Many Faces of John Kerry, released in June 2004 by conservative imprint WND Books (a partnership between WorldNetDaily.com and Thomas Nelson Publishers):

    Arizona Republican Senator John McCain ... noted in a U.S. News & World Report article in 1973 his North Vietnamese guards would taunt him with anti-war rhetoric from Kerry and others. "[A]fter he was released from the Hanoi Hilton in 1973, McCain publicly complained that testimony by Kerry and others before J. William Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Committee was 'the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us.

But here's what McCain stated in an exchange with host George Stephanopoulos on the September 5 edition of This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cal Thomas, a columnist, just a few weeks ago, brought up a quote you had in 1973 where you said that Senator John Kerry's 1971 testimony was the most effective propaganda North Vietnamese captors had to use against us.

McCAIN: But, you know, I went back and looked at that article in, that was in 1973, when I first came home. There's no mention of John Kerry. I don't recall ever hearing John Kerry's name while I was in prison. Now, other of my POW friends did. I don't recall it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't want that used in this campaign?

McCAIN: Of course not, of course not. Look, I was fighting for the right of the people of South Vietnam to disagree with their government peacefully. So I didn't agree with the antiwar activities. But that's a right that American citizens have, to disagree with the policies of our government. It's a fundamental principle of democracy.

Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections, 2004 Elections
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