Responding to a question about whether Sen. John McCain was "maintaining the endorsement" of controversial televangelist John Hagee. NPR's Cokie Roberts asserted: "Well, he says that it was a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement. So I -- what does that mean? I don't know if that means that he has -- maintains it or not." In fact, when asked if he "no longer want[ed]" Hagee's endorsement, McCain stated: "I'm glad to have his endorsement."
During the April 21 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, while discussing Catholic voters, co-host Renee Montagne asked NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts if Sen. John McCain was "maintaining the endorsement" of controversial televangelist John Hagee. Roberts responded: "Well, he says that it was a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement. So I -- what does that mean? I don't know if that means that he has -- maintains it or not." In fact, contrary to Roberts' suggestion that it is unclear whether McCain still accepts Hagee's endorsement, on the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week, when host George Stephanopoulos asked, "So you no longer want his [Hagee's] endorsement?" McCain replied: "I'm glad to have his endorsement." McCain continued: "I condemn remarks that are in any way viewed as anti-anything. And thanks for asking."
Roberts herself appeared in a roundtable discussion segment on the same edition of This Week, during which the panel discussed McCain's interview, though not his comments about Hagee.
Hagee has made controversial statements about Hurricane Katrina, women, homosexuality, the Catholic Church, and Islam, which many media outlets have ignored in reporting Hagee's endorsement of McCain, as Media Matters for America has documented.
From the April 21 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:
MONTAGNE: And, Cokie, over the weekend, John McCain was asked about one of his controversial endorsements, which touches possibly on the Catholic vote. What's the story there?
ROBERTS: Well, he has had the endorsement of a televangelist named John Hagee. And Hagee has called the Catholic Church, quote, a "great whore." And called it, again, quote, a "false cult system." And the Arizona senator has said he has condemned Hagee's remarks. And McCain claims that his way of condemning it is very different from the way that Obama responded to questions about his relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers. And so McCain clearly is now trying to distance himself from Hagee but also using it as a way to attack Barack Obama, clearly thinking Obama is going be his opponent in the general election.
MONTAGNE: Although distancing himself, but, Cokie, maintaining the endorsement?
ROBERTS: Well, he says that it was a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement. So I -- what does that mean? I don't know if that means that he has -- maintains it or not.
MONTAGNE: Thank you very much. Analysis today and every Monday from NPR's Cokie Roberts.
From the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): Well, you say that he should condemn these comments. A lot of Senator Obama's allies and others say that you should condemn the comments of Reverend John Hagee, an evangelical pastor.
McCAIN: Oh I do. And I did. I said that those -- any comments that he said about the Catholic Church, I strongly condemn, of course.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet you solicited and accepted his endorsement.
McCAIN: Yes, indeed, I did. And I condemned the comments that he made concerning the Catholic Church.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're going to hold on to his endorsement. Your own campaign acknowledges that you should have done a better job of vetting Pastor Hagee. So was it a mistake to solicit and accept his endorsement?
McCAIN: Oh, probably. Sure. But I admire and respect Dr. Hagee's leadership of the -- of his church. I admire and appreciate his advocacy for the state of Israel -- the independence and freedom of the state of Israel. I condemn remarks that are made that has anything to do which is condemning of the Catholic Church. So -
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you no longer want his endorsement?
McCAIN: I'm glad to have his endorsement. I condemn remarks that are in any way viewed as anti-anything. And thanks for asking.