SF Chronicle did not report that McCain's claim, "We have drawn down to pre-surge levels," was false

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

Reporting that Sen. John McCain "had to defend his [May 29] comments that U.S. troops are down to 'presurge level,' " the San Francisco Chronicle did not point out that McCain's statement was false. As The Washington Post noted, there are about 155,000 troops in Iraq, well above the 130,000 there before the increase. Further, in reporting that McCain "insisted he hadn't misspoken," the Chronicle did not point out that, in addition to his false statement about troop levels in Iraq, he also "misspoke[]" by misstating what he had initially said.

In a May 31 article, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Sen. John McCain "had to defend his [May 29] comments that U.S. troops are down to 'presurge level.' " However, the Chronicle did not explain that McCain's statement about the U.S. troop level in Iraq, "We have drawn down to pre-surge levels," was, in fact, false. Rather, the Chronicle only pointed to a back-and-forth over the statement between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, writing, "Democrats immediately challenged that assertion, and Obama jumped on the comment, saying, 'That's not true ... and anyone running to be commander in chief should know better.' McCain jabbed back by questioning Obama's foreign policy credentials and insisted he hadn't misspoken. McCain's campaign called the matter 'nitpicking.' "

By contrast, a May 31 Washington Post article that reported McCain's comments also noted that "the troop level in Iraq is at about 155,000, well above the 130,000 that would mark a return to levels preceding the 'surge.' " From the Post:

In comments to reporters on Thursday [May 29], McCain said, "I can tell you that [the troop increase] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet and it's long and it's hard and it's tough and there will be setbacks."

In fact, as the Obama campaign was quick to point out, the troop level in Iraq is at about 155,000, well above the 130,000 that would mark a return to levels preceding the "surge." Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in February that the Pentagon's goal is to reduce troop levels to 140,000 -- still above the pre-buildup levels.

Further, while the Chronicle reported that McCain "insisted he hadn't misspoken," it did not point out that, in addition to his false statement about troop levels in Iraq, he also "misspoke[]" by misstating what he had initially said about U.S. forces being "drawn down to pre-surge levels." As Think Progress noted, McCain was asked during a May 30 press conference, "Did you misspeak yesterday?" McCain replied, "Of course not. ... I said we have drawn down -- and we have drawn down. ... We've drawn down ... three of the five brigades. ... We've drawn down the Marines. The rest of them will be home in the end of July. That's just a fact, and that's -- those are the facts as I stated them." In fact, as Post reporter Michael Dobbs wrote on his blog, The Fact Checker, "those are NOT the facts as he 'stated them.' What he said was that U.S. forces had 'drawn down to pre-surge levels.' "

From the May 31 San Francisco Chronicle article, "Dems brace for final curtain":

McCain, meanwhile, had to defend his comments that U.S. troops are down to "presurge level." Democrats immediately challenged that assertion, and Obama jumped on the comment, saying, "That's not true ... and anyone running to be commander in chief should know better."

McCain jabbed back by questioning Obama's foreign policy credentials and insisted he hadn't misspoken. McCain's campaign called the matter "nitpicking."

But the set-to underscored how, even before the last primaries are ended, the presidential campaign appears increasingly focused on general election issues and the candidates who are likely to face each other.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
San Francisco Chronicle
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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