MSNBC's Hall aired negative McCain ad, ignored his day-old assertion that "negative campaigns don't work"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

MSNBC Live anchor Tamron Hall aired a clip from an ad for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in which an announcer asserts, "Mitt Romney says the next president doesn't need foreign policy experience. John McCain for president." Hall called the ad a "straight-up target at Mitt Romney," but Hall did not note that McCain had delivered a speech the night before in which he said that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that, one, you can't buy an election in Iowa, and, two, negative campaigns don't work. They don't work there, and they don't work here in New Hampshire."

During an interview with Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior policy adviser for Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign, on the January 4 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Tamron Hall asserted that McCain "[has] got an ad out, and he takes a stab, it seems, at a particular candidate." Hall aired a clip from the McCain campaign Web ad "Experience," in which an announcer asserts that Republican presidential candidate "Mitt Romney says the next president doesn't need foreign policy experience. John McCain for president." Hall called the ad a "straight-up target at Mitt Romney." But Hall did not note that McCain had delivered a speech the night before -- following the Iowa caucuses -- in which he said that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that, one, you can't buy an election in Iowa, and, two, negative campaigns don't work. They don't work there, and they don't work here in New Hampshire."

As Media Matters for America documented, several print outlets uncritically quoted or paraphrased McCain's comments about negative campaigns following the Iowa caucuses without noting that McCain has run negative TV ads in New Hampshire against Romney. McCain's campaign has also produced negative Web ads targeting Romney.

Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin also wrote in a January 4 post on his blog, The Page, that McCain had released a new negative Web ad, "Leadership," that "goes after Romney on leadership." According to Halperin, the ad will "appear on targeted websites including Politico, Union Leader and Boston.com." Halperin also did not note McCain's January 3 comment that "negative campaigns don't work."

From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the January 4 edition of MSNBC Live:

HALL: What's interesting -- of course, we know McCain's foreign policy experience, and I don't think anyone would dare take a stab at that. But interestingly enough, he's got an ad out, and he takes a stab, it seems, at a particular candidate. Let's look at that ad.

ANNOUNCER [video clip]: Mitt Romney says the next president doesn't need foreign policy experience. John McCain for president.

HALL: So that's a straight-up target at Mitt Romney. Why not go after Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee as well, because they could be problems later on in this race?

PFOTENHAUER: Well, I think, you know, it's "take this hill that's in front of us today," and clearly that's New Hampshire, and that's a two-man race at this point. You know, there are always three stories coming out of Iowa: it's who won, who lost, and who exceeded expectations. Obviously, John McCain exceeded expectations, and Mitt Romney lost. So, this is really the last clear shot for Romney, and he's going to fight like that. And he's going to fight the way he has shown a willingness to engage, shall we say. And I think Senator McCain is going to be very, very strongly defending his record and refusing to let it be distorted. He's also going to clearly show the contrasts between Governor Romney and himself, and no issue is more near and dear to his heart than foreign policy.

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John McCain, 2008 Elections
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