CNN again aired McCain's false suggestion that Obama opposed designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

On This Week in Politics, Tom Foreman aired without challenging Sen. John McCain's false suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama opposed designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) a terrorist organization. Foreman did not note that Obama co-sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have designated the IRG a terrorist organization, nor did he note that Obama said he opposed the bill McCain referenced because it "state[d] that our military presence in Iraq should be used to counter Iran."

On the July 13 edition of CNN's This Week in Politics, host Tom Foreman aired without challenging Sen. John McCain's false suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama opposed designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) a terrorist organization. Foreman aired a clip of comments from a July 9 press availability in which McCain said: "It's my understanding that this missile test was conducted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when a amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Obama refused to vote, called it provocative. " However, Foreman did not note that Obama co-sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have designated the IRG a terrorist organization. Nor did he note that Obama said he opposed the bill McCain referenced -- the Kyl-Lieberman amendment -- because it "state[d] that our military presence in Iraq should be used to counter Iran." Further, rather than make explicit that McCain's claim that he "voted to condemn" the IRG "as a terrorist organization" was false, Foreman said: "In fairness, Senator McCain was gone at the time, so he didn't get a chance to vote either on that matter." Indeed, Foreman did not note that the McCain campaign had admitted that McCain's claim to have voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was an "error." Evan Glass and Kerith McFadden reported in a July 10 entry on CNN.com's Political Ticker blog that "McCain was in New York instead of being in the Senate chamber for the vote in question. The McCain campaign admits the error but points to their candidate's tough stance against the country President Bush once grouped into the 'axis of evil.' "

As Media Matters for America noted, CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and Campbell Brown -- on separate July 9 CNN programs -- also uncritically aired McCain's comments without noting Obama's co-sponsorship of the 2007 bill or his explanation for voting against the Kyl-Lieberman amendment.

From the July 13 edition of CNN's This Week in Politics:

FOREMAN: Back in the 1960s, the great singer Ella Fitzgerald used to break wine glasses with her incredible voice in an ad and then ask, "Is it live or is it Memorex audiotape?" This week, the question was, are these Iranian missiles real or are they Photoshopped? At least some of them were obviously only digital. But enough were real to shake up the entire region, which brings us to the presidential race. How did the candidates react and what does this prove about their fitness to be commander in chief?

To discuss all of this, CNN's congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, who, in full disclosure, hasn't been in the Capitol in months. She's been on the campaign trail. And Chris Cillizza, political writer at washingtonpost.com.

Chris, let me start with you. Is this a good issue or a bad issue for these two candidates to be raised?

CILLIZZA: Well, I think it's like any issue. It is what you make of it. You know, I think both of them very quickly recognized it is an issue that they had to address. You certainly can't have Iran testing missiles and not talk about it. Barack Obama used it to say, "This is a failure of the Bush administration's policy. It's what I've been saying all along. We need direct diplomacy." John McCain used it to reinforce his message. This is a failure. He didn't sort of put it on the Bush administration. But we need sanctions. We need to rethink the way we approach it, but we don't need direct diplomacy. So, what both of them did is they took it, brought it into their wheelhouse, and tried to knock it out of the park.

FOREMAN: Let's listen to their own words on this and hear what they had to say on this very issue.

OBAMA [video clip]: It's so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communication, so that we avoid provocation, but we give strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior.

McCAIN [video clip]: This missile test was conducted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when a amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Obama refused to vote, called it provocative.

FOREMAN: In fairness, Senator McCain was gone at the time, so he didn't get a chance to vote either on that matter. But let me ask you something, Jessica. Does this issue of Iran, which does indeed, as Chris said, keep coming up -- it's going to keep coming up -- naturally play to a strength of one of these men?

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Tom Foreman
Show/Publication
This Week in Politics
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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