Despite evidence to the contrary, NPR's Horsley called McCain "ordinarily straight-talking"

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

During a report on NPR's Morning Edition, correspondent Scott Horsley referred to Sen. John McCain as "ordinarily straight-talking," despite evidence of McCain's numerous falsehoods, flip-flops, inconsistencies, and instances of apparent political pandering.

During the May 28 edition of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, correspondent Scott Horsley reported: "Late last week, during a news conference in central California, John McCain was asked an uncomfortable question: Which will be harder in the months to come --" Horsley then played an audio clip of an unidentified man finishing the question: " ... beating Barack Obama or pretending you like George Bush on a daily basis?" After airing McCain's response -- "Are you with Comedy Central?" -- Horsley asserted: "The ordinarily straight-talking McCain didn't take the bait, except to say that he expects to be judged on his own vision for America." But contrary to Horsley's assertion -- a repetition of the pervasive myth of McCain as "straight-talking" -- Media Matters for America has documented numerous McCain falsehoods, flip-flops, inconsistencies, and instances of apparent political pandering, including his repeated claim that he voted against President Bush's tax cuts because they weren't paired with spending cuts -- a different reason from the one he gave in 2001 when he voted against the tax cuts; his reversals on immigration and the religious right; his false claims that he called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Defense secretary, that Iran is training Al Qaeda, that Obama has only recently proposed that a "strike force" remain in Iraq after the United States withdraws most U.S. troops, that Obama "approve[d]" of a meeting between former President Jimmy Carter and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, that Obama "once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan," that Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton support a "big-government takeover of health care," and that Clinton and Obama "want to raise your taxes"; his false suggestion that Obama said Al Qaeda does not currently have a presence in Iraq; and his misrepresentation of statements by Mitt Romney.

Media Matters has repeatedly documented (here, here, here, here, and here) how the media routinely refer to McCain as a straight-talker, despite evidence to the contrary.

From the May 28 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:

HORSLEY: Late last week, during a news conference in central California, John McCain was asked an uncomfortable question: Which will be harder in the months to come --

[begin audio clip]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- beating Barack Obama or pretending you like George Bush on a daily basis?

McCAIN: Are you with Comedy Central?

[end audio clip]

HORSLEY: The ordinarily straight-talking McCain didn't take the bait, except to say he expects to be judged on his own vision for America. Even as he leans on President Bush for fundraising help this week, McCain's trying hard not to be saddled with the president's troubles, including an approval rating that tumbled to just 27 percent last month in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. So far, McCain has fared better than many of his fellow Republicans. Charlie Black is one of McCain's senior advisers.

BLACK: If you look at all the national polls against either Democrat, he's basically even at a time when the Republican brand is lower than even with the Democratic brand, so we're happy with where we are.

HORSLEY: McCain has been stressing his independence from President Bush. The two were bitter rivals in the GOP primary eight years ago, and McCain has criticized the president for inaction on global warming and his early conduct of the Iraq war. Pollster Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center says that's the image of John McCain that seems to resonate with voters.

KOHUT: He's seen as a different kind of Republican. He's seen as a maverick Republican. He's seen as a centrist when we ask people to judge his ideology. They put him very far away from President Bush.

HORSLEY: On the other hand, McCain campaigned hard for the president's re-election four years ago. While he initially opposed the Bush tax cuts, he now says they should be made permanent. His health-care proposal is built on the same consumer-driven chassis as the president's. And McCain is still one of the strongest backers of the Iraq war, which may be President Bush's most lasting legacy. Kohut says that's the John McCain Democrats want voters to focus on when they argue that McCain is running for George Bush's third term.

KOHUT: Their campaign is going to be, he's a lot more like Bush than you think, and he's a lot more like a typical conservative Republican when it comes to this issue, that issue, and the following other issues.

HORSLEY: One of McCain's senior advisers, Steve Schmidt, was a spokesman for President Bush's re-election campaign four years ago. And McCain recently hired Nicolle Wallace, the Bush campaign's communications director, to help fashion message and strategy. Part of that message is a break from the past. Just yesterday, aides characterized McCain's speech on nuclear security as a significant departure from Bush administration policy. With that in mind, McCain wasn't about to pose for pictures with the unpopular president at his side. For his part, Mr. Bush appears willing to keep a low profile as he said when the two men did appear together on camera in the White House Rose Garden in early March.

Network/Outlet
NPR
Person
Scott Horsley
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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