Wash. Post cropped Obama quote in purporting to contrast Obama's and McCain's identities as Americans

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

A Washington Post article falsely suggested that in a speech in Berlin, Sen. Barack Obama referred to himself only as a "citizen of the world." In fact, in that speech, Obama referred to himself as "a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world," a self-description very similar to President Reagan's assertion in a 1982 speech before the United Nations that "I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world."

In an August 12 Washington Post article, reporter Alec MacGillis claimed that Sen. Barack Obama is the "embodiment of a new America" and that "Obama lacks a ready answer" to the question of where he is from, in contrast with Sen. John McCain, who, MacGillis wrote, "hails from an America that exalted service to country." In support of his claim of a contrast between the two candidates' identities as Americans, MacGillis falsely suggested that in a July 24 speech in Berlin, Obama referred to himself only as a "citizen of the world." In fact, in that speech, Obama referred to himself as "a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world," a self-description very similar to President Reagan's assertion in a 1982 speech before the United Nations General Assembly that "I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world."

MacGillis also uncritically wrote that McCain "preaches a mantra of personal honor and of the nation over the individual -- 'Country First,' as his campaign slogan declares," ignoring reporting by the Post's own Howard Kurtz, who asserted that McCain's "Country First" slogan was being used to call Obama's patriotism into question and who pointed out falsehoods in McCain's ads attacking Obama. Writing about McCain's "Troop Funding" ad in a July 18 post on the Post's The Trail blog, Kurtz asserted: "The tagline -- 'country first' -- is a not-so-subtle attempt to suggest that the former Navy aviator, pictured against American flag images, is more patriotic than Obama, who did not serve in the military and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia." Further, the "Troop Funding" ad contains misleading claims about Obama's role in hearings on Afghanistan and Obama's votes on funding the troops. Additionally, in a subsequent ad titled simply "Troops," McCain repeated the misleading claims about Afghanistan hearings and troop funding and falsely suggested that Obama did not visit wounded troops during his recent trip abroad.

From MacGillis' August 12 Washington Post article:

McCain hails from an America that exalted service to country, and he is the scion of a military family who endured five years in enemy captivity and who preaches a mantra of personal honor and of the nation over the individual -- "Country First," as his campaign slogan declares. His wife is conspicuously reserved at his side; he does not communicate by e-mail and only recently learned to use the Internet; even his roguish sense of humor carries echoes of the more chauvinistic 1950s of his youth.

Obama's embodiment of a newer America begins but hardly ends with the fact that he would be the first black president. In a country where people liked to know where you were from, Obama lacks a ready answer -- he is part Hawaii, part Kansas, part Chicago. In a recent speech in Berlin, he declared himself a "citizen of the world."

Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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