Ignoring previous CNN report, Blitzer uncritically repeated McCain's assertion that overseas trip is "not for campaign purposes"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

CNN host Wolf Blitzer simply reported Sen. John McCain's assertion that his current trip overseas is "not for campaign purposes" without noting that before McCain's trip, Dana Bash had quoted McCain advisers saying that the trip was at least in part an effort to "stay[] in the headlines" and promote the "imagery of a leader comfortable on the world stage."

On the March 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer uncritically repeated Sen. John McCain's assertion that his current weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe is "not for campaign purposes." Blitzer did not mention, as Media Matters for America noted, that on the March 6 edition of Blitzer's own program, congressional correspondent Dana Bash reported that "[McCain] advisers tell CNN" that at least one purpose of McCain's overseas trip is to "stay[] in the headlines" and promote the "imagery of a leader comfortable on the world stage."

Blitzer teased a discussion on McCain's overseas trip by stating: "And John McCain sees up close the war he could inherit if he's elected president, travels to Iraq for the first time as the presumptive Republican nominee. McCain says it's not for campaign photo opportunities. What is he doing there?" Blitzer later previewed the discussion of the trip again, stating: "John McCain in Iraq -- the presumptive Republican nominee says it's not for campaign purposes. But what is it for?" After a commercial break, Blitzer asked CNN commentator Jack Cafferty about McCain's trip. Cafferty did appear to dispute the notion that McCain's trip was unrelated to his campaign, stating, "He took [Sen.] Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and [Sen.] Joe Lieberman [I-CT] with him -- two of his most visible and biggest supporters. And they're going to go to France and Britain and Jordan and Israel and Iraq. And you and I are paying for it. And I think that's wrong." But Blitzer replied, "I mean, he is a member ... of the Armed Services Committee. The two other senators are senior members of the Armed Services Committee. And that's what members of the Armed Services Committee do. They go on trips around the world." After Cafferty said, "Oh, come on. Give me a break, Wolf," CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger said, "[T]hey say this was a long-planned trip. But, obviously, he's the presumptive Republican nominee now, and this is going to look like a political trip."

At no point did Blitzer or any of his guests mention evidence that McCain's trip could, in fact, be campaign-related, ignoring Bash's report that aired March 6 on The Situation Room.

From the March 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in The Situation Room.

Happening now, the breaking news out of Florida: no revote in Florida. The state's Democratic Party saying it will not -- repeat, not -- hold a second primary. So what does that mean for [Sen.] Hillary Clinton and [Sen.] Barack Obama's battle for delegates?

Barack Obama is set to give a major speech on race. That happens tomorrow. But will it soothe some of the recent tension over racial issues?

And John McCain sees up close the war he could inherit if he's elected president, travels to Iraq for the first time as the presumptive Republican nominee. McCain says it's not for campaign photo opportunities. What is he doing there? All of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

[...]

BLITZER: Stand by, guys. We got more to talk about.

BORGER: Keep those emails coming.

BLITZER: John McCain in Iraq -- the presumptive Republican nominee says it's not for campaign purposes. But what is it for?

And days of scandal eased by a bit of humor -- the New York state legislature swearing in a new governor and adding a new page to its history. And a new turn to the page -- and a turn on the page -- the recent very dark days in that state. The new governor of New York becomes a bit of a comedian. You're going to want to hear some of what he said.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.

[...]

McCAIN [video clip]: I'll be glad to stake my campaign on the fact that this has succeeded and the American people appreciate it. Now, will we be able to succeed fast enough, will they be able to -- Al Qaeda be able to come back? That's a tough question. They're on the run, but they're not defeated.

BLITZER: John McCain speaking to our John King in Baghdad just a little while ago. Let's talk about what's going on with the best political team on television.

BLITZER: Jack, what do you think about McCain's visit to Iraq and what he's saying? He's hammering away at the two Democratic candidates for supposedly getting ready to throw up their hands and watch defeat happen in Iraq.

CAFFERTY: I think he ought to be reading a book on the economy while he's flying around over there -- on the taxpayers' dime, I might add. He took Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman with him -- two of his most visible and biggest supporters. And they're going to go to France and Britain and Jordan and Israel and Iraq. And you and I are paying for it.

And I think that's wrong. I think the old Straight Talk Express guy ought to go to his hip and pay for this crap out of his own money.

BLITZER: What do you think? I mean, he is a member, Gloria, of the Armed Services Committee. The two other senators are senior members of the Armed Services Committee. And that's what members of the Armed Services Committee do. They go on trips around the world.

CAFFERTY: Oh, come on. Give me a break, Wolf.

BORGER: Right. And they say this was a long-planned trip. But, obviously, he's the presumptive Republican nominee now, and this is going to look like a political trip.

From the March 6 edition of The Situation Room:

BASH: McCain's biggest challenge now is staying in the headlines. Knowing that, his advisers tell CNN they have a series of events planned to try.

First, travel abroad. Later this month, McCain will go to Europe and meet with key allies and also go to the Middle East.

McCAIN: I've spent my entire life addressing national security issues.

BASH: The goal: not just words, but imagery of a leader comfortable on the world stage, hoping it provides a contrast to the Democrats' political brawl.

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