MSNBC's O'Donnell issues "clarification" for falsely claiming McCain "called for Don Rumsfeld's resignation"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

A day after falsely claiming that Sen. John McCain "called for Don Rumsfeld's resignation," MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell issued a "clarification," saying: "Yesterday, I suggested that John McCain had called for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation in the past. In fact, what McCain had said repeatedly was that he lacked confidence in Rumsfeld. But he did not directly call for Rumsfeld to step down back when Rumsfeld was still in office."

On the March 27 edition of MSNBC Live, chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell issued "a clarification" to her false statement the day before that Sen. John McCain "called for [former Defense Secretary] Don Rumsfeld's resignation." In her clarification, O'Donnell stated: "Yesterday, I suggested that John McCain had called for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation in the past. In fact, what McCain had said repeatedly was that he lacked confidence in Rumsfeld. But he did not directly call for Rumsfeld to step down back when Rumsfeld was still in office." As Media Matters for America noted, while McCain expressed "no confidence" in Rumsfeld in 2004, the Associated Press reported at the time that McCain "said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation." Further, when Fox News host Shepard Smith specifically asked McCain, "Does Donald Rumsfeld need to step down?" on November 8, 2006 -- hours before Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation -- McCain responded that it was "a decision to be made by the president." McCain offered a similar statement on the October 18, 2006, edition of MSNBC's Hardball, stating: "I was asked if he should resign. I said no, that's up to the president."

As Media Matters noted, The Washington Post reported in a February 9 article that McCain "regularly reminds audiences that he also criticized Bush's management of the war and called for Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation as defense secretary." After Media Matters noted the article's failure to report that McCain's repeated assertions that he had called for Rumsfeld's resignation was false, the Post published an article reporting that McCain "overstate[d] his public position on Rumsfeld" and never called for him to resign. According to the February 16 article: "[D]uring a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., aired on CNN, McCain said, 'I'm the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go.' A McCain spokesman acknowledged this week that that was not correct. 'He did not call for his resignation,' said the campaign's Brian Rogers. 'He always said that's the president's prerogative.' " The February 16 Post article also noted that "McCain's false account has been unwittingly incorporated into the narrative he is selling by some news organizations, including The Washington Post."

From the 3 p.m. ET hour of the March 27 edition of MSNBC Live:

O'DONNELL: And a clarification. Yesterday, I suggested that John McCain had called for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation in the past. In fact, what McCain had said repeatedly was that he lacked confidence in Rumsfeld. But he did not directly call for Rumsfeld to step down back when Rumsfeld was still in office.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Norah O'Donnell
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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