In reporting on McCain's Iraq "clarification," CNN's Blitzer ignored McCain's flip-flop on Bush administration's "public statements"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Reporting on Sen. John McCain's press release restating his "determination not to leave Iraq," CNN's Wolf Blitzer completely ignored McCain's backtracking on his earlier criticism of the Bush administration's public statements about the Iraq war.

In an August 25 report on CNN's The Situation Room about Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) August 25 press release restating his "determination not to leave Iraq," anchor Wolf Blitzer completely ignored McCain's backtracking on his earlier criticism of the Bush administration.

As Media Matters for America has noted, at an August 22 fundraiser in Ohio, McCain criticized public statements from President Bush and top administration officials about the Iraq war, saying:

McCAIN: I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifice that would be required. "Stuff happens." "Mission Accomplished." "Last throes." A few "dead-enders." I'm as -- more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we have not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.

In his press release, McCain restated his support for the war in Iraq: "I have never intended my concern that the American public be fully informed about the conduct and consequences of the war to indicate any lessening of my support for our mission there." McCain then praised Bush for his "honest" "public statements" regarding the war:

And I commend the President for his public statements offering Americans an honest assessment of the progress we have made in Iraq and the challenges that still confront us there, and, of course, for his determination to defend American security and international peace and stability by succeeding in this arduous and costly enterprise.

But Blitzer did not mention the apparent inconsistency between McCain's August 25 praise of Bush's candor and his August 22 criticism of Bush's Iraq war rhetoric, characterizing McCain's August 25 release simply as a "clarification." Indeed, Blitzer completely ignored McCain's praise of Bush on August 25, and the clip CNN aired of McCain's August 22 remarks omitted McCain's specific references to the Bush administration's optimistic assessments of the Iraq war.

From the August 25 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Republican Senator John McCain today is denying he's changed his position on the Iraq war. The possible 2008 presidential contender says he still supports the mission and opposes a premature troop withdrawal despite concerns he raised in Ohio earlier this week. Here's what Senator McCain said on Tuesday. Listen to this.

McCAIN [video clip]: [I]t grieves me so much that we have not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be. And it has contributed enormously to the frustration that Americans feel today, because they were led to believe that this would be some kind of a day at the beach, which many of us fully understood from the beginning would be a very, very difficult undertaking.

BLITZER: In a statement today, McCain says: "I ... never intended my concern that the American public be fully informed about the conduct and consequences of the war to indicate any lessening of my support for our mission there. On the contrary," he went on and said, "I view a candid, informed public discussion of the war as critical to sustaining popular support for the war and, thus, indispensable to ensuring the ultimate success of our mission." That clarification from Senator McCain.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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