MSNBC's First Read misrepresented McCain's false attack on Obama over Carter-Hamas meeting

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In a post on MSNBC.com's First Read blog about Sen. Barack Obama's position on former President Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas, Aswini Anburajan reported that Obama has been "attacked by [Sen. John] McCain for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly." But McCain has not merely "attacked" Obama "for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly"; he has actually misrepresented Obama's position on Carter's meeting with Hamas, falsely suggesting that Obama "approve[d]" of the meeting.

In an April 21 post on MSNBC.com's First Read blog, Aswini Anburajan noted that since former President Jimmy Carter "announced he was meeting with Hamas, [Sen. Barack] Obama has criticized him for meeting with a terrorist organization." Anburajan then added that Obama "has also been attacked by [Sen. John] McCain for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly." But Anburajan misstated McCain's "attack[]" on Obama. McCain has not merely "attacked" Obama for purportedly "not condemning Carter's visit more sternly"; he has actually misrepresented Obama's position on Carter's meeting with Hamas, falsely suggesting that Obama "approve[d]" of the meeting. On the April 16 edition of Fox News' Your World, McCain stated, referring to Carter's meeting with Hamas: "Senator Obama does not have the experience to make the right judgment as to how to deal with terrorist organizations, obviously. Otherwise, he would never approve of such a meeting."

As Media Matters for America has noted, Reuters reported on March 3 that Obama "has said he would break with President George W. Bush's stance of declining to talk to some other international adversaries but that stance does not apply to Hamas." According to Reuters, Obama said at a campaign stop in San Antonio: "You can't negotiate with somebody who does not recognize the right of a country to exist so I understand why Israel doesn't meet with Hamas."

Referring specifically to Carter's planned meeting with Hamas, the Obama campaign released a statement on April 10 asserting that Obama "does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements." On April 16, Obama reiterated that he "disagree[s] with" Carter's decision to meet with Hamas, in remarks that Reuters reported before McCain claimed Obama "approve[d] of such a meeting." From the April 16 Reuters report:

Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama on Wednesday disagreed with former President Jimmy Carter's overtures toward Hamas, saying he would not talk to the Islamist group until it recognized Israel and renounced terrorism.

The Illinois senator, campaigning in Pennsylvania which holds the next presidential voting contest on Tuesday, told a group of Jewish leaders he has an "unshakable commitment" to help protect Israel from its "bitter enemies."

"That's why I have a fundamental difference with President Carter and disagree with his decision to meet with Hamas," Obama said. "We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel's destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by past agreements."

"Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization," he said.

From the April 21 First Read post:

Asked by a reporter if he had heard that Carter reported a positive outcome from the meeting, Obama looked sternly at the reporter in question and said, "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

Asked again by the reporter, Obama bit -- not at the question but into a butter covered bite of Glider's specialty over-size Belgian waffles. With a wink this time he said, "Just let me eat my waffle."

Since Carter announced he was meeting with Hamas, Obama has criticized him for meeting with a terrorist organization. He has also been attacked by McCain for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly.

At a meeting with Jewish leaders in Philadelphia last week, Obama told the audience there that while he thought it was appropriate to meet with countries like Syria and Iran because they were states, despite their hostilities towards Israel. However, he said, Hamas was a terrorist organization and so did not justify a meeting.

From the April 16 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: As you also know, today, sir, Jimmy Carter has indicated that tomorrow --

McCAIN: Yeah.

CAVUTO: -- the meeting with Hamas leaders is set; there's no way of changing that. How do you feel about that?

McCAIN: I think it's -- the word that springs to mind is "unacceptable." And another one is "disgraceful."

These are thugs and murderers. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton should directly repudiate and tell President Carter he should not meet with what is fundamentally a terrorist that's been responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people, and continues to articulate daily his organization and his personal dedication to the extinction of the state of Israel.

They are a terrorist organization. No former president of the United States should be meeting with them.

CAVUTO: All right. So, when Barack Obama says you do have to talk to your enemies, that you can't ignore your enemies, what do you say?

McCAIN: I say that you cannot legitimize terrorists, murderers, thugs and give them a place on the world stage, who violate every standard and norm that we stand for and believe in, including the innocent slaughter of civilians, and women, and children.

And so, I strongly disagree. And, again, it's this issue of experience and judgment. Senator Obama does not have the experience to make the right judgment as to how to deal with terrorist organizations, obviously. Otherwise, he would never approve of such a meeting.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, we've been in and out of another all-time high for oil and gas prices today --

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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