NPR's Liasson falsely claimed distortion-laden McCain ad "catalogued all of the false or sexist or awful things" Dems have said about Palin

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER & CHRISTINE SCHWEN

On NPR's Morning Edition, Mara Liasson asserted that a new McCain campaign ad "catalogued all of the false or sexist or awful things that Democrats and Obama supporters have said about [Gov.] Sarah Palin." In fact, the ad did not "catalogue[]" any "false" statements the Obama campaign or other Democrats have made about Palin and, as FactCheck.org noted, the ad "distorts" each of the three Obama campaign statements it uses "to make the case" that Sen. Barack Obama is "being 'disrespectful' of Palin."

On the September 12 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, national political correspondent Mara Liasson asserted: "[T]oday, the McCain campaign just released an ad called, 'Disrespectful,' where it catalogued all of the false or sexist or awful things that Democrats and Obama supporters have said about [Gov.] Sarah Palin." In fact, the McCain campaign ad to which Liasson referred did not "catalogue[]" any "false" statements the Obama campaign or other Democrats have made about Palin. Moreover, contrary to Liasson's assertion that the ad documents "sexist" and "awful things" that have been said about Palin, it "distorts" each of the three Obama campaign statements it uses "to make the case," as FactCheck.org has noted.

From FactCheck.org's September 11 article:

The ad says Obama and [Sen. Joe] Biden "lashed out at Sarah Palin. Dismissed her as 'good looking.' "

That's misleading. The reference is to a report of Biden joking that one of the differences between Palin and him is that "she's good looking." But the report cited in the ad doesn't characterize Biden's remarks as dismissive. Instead, ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe describe a moment when Biden "ham[s] it up" for the crowd, with one woman telling Biden that he's "gorgeous." The Democratic candidate then says he'd like to end "on a serious note."

[...]

Our ears don't hear Biden's "good looking" comment as dismissive. To the contrary, it's clearly a self-deprecating remark made in joking about himself and his looks. And by the way, the ad shows a picture of Obama next to the "good looking" quote, but it was Biden, not Obama, who said that.

[...]

The ad continues to imply sexism by claiming that "they said she was doing 'what she was told.' " Presumably "they" are the Democrats. But no one said anything close to that. Rather, the McCain ad took a fragment of an actual statement by an Obama adviser and carefully added language to alter the meaning.

The ad cites a Sept. 4 report from Ben Smith's blog at Politico.com in which he interviewed Obama adviser David Axelrod about Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention.

The full quote reads:

Axelrod, quoted by Politico, Sept. 4: "She tried to attack Obama by saying he had no significant legislative accomplishments -- maybe that's what she was told -- but she should talk to Sen. Lugar, talk to Sen. Coburn, talk to people across the aisle in Illinois where he passed dozens of major laws to expand health care reform welfare, reduce taxes on working families."

Axelrod's statement, as reported, was about information that Palin was given: "maybe that's what she was told." The McCain-Palin campaign manipulated the phrase to make it sound as though he was alleging that Palin took orders: "doing what she was told."

The rest of the interview actually included some praise from Axelrod for Palin. For instance, he said she is a "skilled politician."

And, again, the quote used in the ad wasn't said by Obama, either - though his photo appears next to it.

[...]

The ad wraps up by saying Obama and Biden "desperately called Sarah Palin a liar." And it adds, "How disrespectful."

The reference is to an ad the Obama-Biden campaign released in which it criticizes Palin for saying she was against the infamous Bridge to Nowhere when she had previously been for it. (We called into question Palin's comments on the bridge last week.) The Obama ad says, "Politicians lying about their records. You don't call that maverick, you call it more of the same." It then quotes an item from the liberal magazine The New Republic, which called the claim that Palin stopped the pork-barrel bridge project "a naked lie."

Indeed, as Media Matters for America has documented, Palin has put forth outright falsehoods about her purported opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere" project.

Later in the Morning Edition broadcast, Liasson identified several "examples" of, in host Renée Montagne's words, "John McCain's once-famous 'Straight Talk Express' taking a detour," but Liasson did not return to discussing McCain's "Disrespectful" ad. After mentioning the "examples," Liasson stated: "But, you know, this might not be straight talk, but just like those celebrity ads with Paris Hilton that the McCain campaign ran earlier, they -- it seems to work, and I think winning is important whether you win pretty or win ugly."

From the September 12 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition:

MONTAGNE: The excitement about Sarah Palin, her appeal to conservatives, her interview last night with ABC News, and the shifting polls are the big campaign stories these days. Our political brain trust is standing by to provide some analysis: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson and political editor Ken Rudin. Good morning to both of you.

RUDIN: Good morning, Renée.

LIASSON: Good morning, Renée.

MONTAGNE: Now, Mara, if I may start with you, conventional wisdom has it that people don't vote on running mates, they vote for the top of the ticket, but from what we've just heard from [correspondent] Don [Gonyea], and from other stories, it looks like Sarah Palin may just well turn that on its head.

LIASSON: She may be the exception that proves the rule, at least for now. She is energizing the base, as you just heard. She's boosted John McCain's support with white women. She's energized him -- he hasn't been apart from her very much for the whole week, and the campaign says they may continue to campaign together. That's why they're getting those big crowds; he wouldn't get them by himself.

And the other effect she's had is to flummox the famously unflappable Obama campaign, who has been unsure of how to deal with her and has tried out a whole bunch of different approaches. Some of them have been more successful than others, and as a matter of fact, today, the McCain campaign just released an ad called, "Disrespectful," where it catalogued all of the false or sexist or awful things that Democrats and Obama supporters have said about Sarah Palin.

MONTAGNE: Ken, let's talk about the polls. How much of McCain's better numbers are thanks to Palin?

[...]

MONTAGNE: And sticking with you, Mara, there's been talk about John McCain's once-famous "Straight Talk Express" taking a detour. Palin's claims to oppose the bridge -- "Bridge," I'm sorry, "to Nowhere" when the facts indicate she initially supported it. Can you give us some other examples?

LIASSON: Well, there's a lot of examples. Obviously, the "Bridge to Nowhere" is a big one. She was for it, before she was against it, and she was against it when it really didn't matter anymore. The McCain campaign is running an ad about attacking Barack Obama's education record, saying that he was for comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. Fact-check features in newspapers have called that dishonest and deceptive.

And then, of course, there's the charge that when he said, "putting lipstick on a pig," he was referring to Sarah Palin, which seems to not to be supported by the evidence. But, you know, this might not be straight talk, but just like those celebrity ads with Paris Hilton that the McCain campaign ran earlier, they -- it seems to work, and I think winning is important whether you win pretty or win ugly, and that seems to be the strategy that the McCain campaign is following.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
NPR
Person
Mara Liasson, Sarah Palin
Show/Publication
Morning Edition
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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