Even after McCain retracts Iraq war statement, Blitzer calls it "straight talk"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Dana Bash both characterized as "straight talk" Sen. John McCain's assertion that he will "lose" the presidential election if, as Bash reported, "he doesn't convince voters that the U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding" -- even though they acknowledged McCain immediately retracted the statement.

On the February 25 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer said that an assertion about Sen. John McCain's presidential prospects that McCain made and then quickly retracted was "a lot of straight talk." Blitzer introduced a report by CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash by asserting, "There was a lot of, I guess a lot of straight talk from John McCain today, but some are suggesting maybe it was a little too much straight talk. What exactly happened?" Bash responded: "Well, John McCain himself quickly realized it was too much straight talk, Wolf. What he did is, on his bus with reporters, John McCain said that if he doesn't convince voters that the U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding, he said, quote, 'Then I lose. I lose.' But then immediately, he said he wanted to retract that 'I'll lose' prediction."

Roughly two hours later on The Situation Room, Blitzer, discussing the same assertion with Bash, said: "There was some straight talk, very straight talk, from John McCain today. Then, he seemed to backtrack a little bit. What happened?" Bash responded: "He realized his straight talk was too straight, Wolf."

Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of CNN personalities, including Blitzer, uncritically referring to McCain's "straight talk" despite McCain's flip-flops and ever-growing list of false assertions. Media Matters also documented numerous instances in which CNN personalities have referred to McCain as a "maverick."

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

BLITZER: The likely Republican nominee, John McCain, is drawing a new line in the sand today over Iraq. He offered a blunt prediction about how the war could impact his prospects for winning the general election. Dana Bash is covering the McCain campaign. She's joining us now from Ohio as well.

There was a lot of, I guess a lot of straight talk from John McCain today, but some are suggesting maybe it was a little too much straight talk. What exactly happened?

BASH: Well, John McCain himself quickly realized it was too much straight talk, Wolf. What he did is, on his bus with reporters, John McCain said that if he doesn't convince voters that the U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding, he said, quote, "Then I lose. I lose." But then immediately, he said he wanted to retract that "I'll lose" prediction. But it was clear even earlier today, Wolf, at a town hall meeting outside Cleveland that John McCain understands that the way things are going in Iraq and his ability to convince people that things are going better in Iraq very much will determine how people judge his candidacy.

[...]

BLITZER: Plus, John McCain's Iraq warning -- he briefly suggests the war might cost him the White House. Is this straight talk tripping him up?

[...]

BLITZER: The likely Republican nominee, John McCain, is drawing a new line in the sand today over Iraq. He offered a blunt prediction about how the war could impact his prospects for winning the general election. Dana Bash is covering McCain. She's in Ohio as well.

There was some straight talk, very straight talk, from John McCain today. Then, he seemed to backtrack a little bit. What happened?

BASH: He realized his straight talk was too straight, Wolf. And now what John McCain told reporters on his bus earlier today that -- is that if the U.S. strategy in Iraq does not succeed militarily, he said in terms of his political future: "Then I lose. I lose."

But he immediately backtracked and said that he wanted to retract that "I lose" statement -- prediction. But, you know, I just asked him here at the Colonial Eatery, where John McCain just left gathering with voters in Parma, Ohio -- I asked him about that statement on his bus. And he said, "Look, clearly my fortunes are tied to what's happening in Iraq." He understands that, and that sentiment was abundantly clear earlier today with voters.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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