Miami Herald leaves out McCain flip-flop, McClatchy critique of ad in reporting McCain's immigration-related attacks on Obama

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

The Miami Herald quoted Sen. John McCain criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for "propos[ing] amendments that would have killed" an immigration bill McCain co-sponsored in 2006, but the article did not report that McCain later said he would vote against his own proposal if it were to come up again for a Senate vote.

A Miami Herald article about Sen. John McCain's September 15 campaign stop in Orlando quoted McCain saying he "fought for" comprehensive immigration legislation and criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for "propos[ing] amendments that would have killed" it. But the article did not report that McCain said during the Republican primary this year that he would no longer vote for his own immigration bill if it were to come up again in the Senate.

In the September 16 article, staff writers Beth Reinhard and Mary Ellen Klas wrote: "McCain spearheaded a bill in 2006 -- reviled by the right wing of his own party -- that would have allowed illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Obama supported the overall goal but backed controversial amendments that would have limited a guest worker program." Reinhard and Klas then quoted McCain saying, ''The fact is that Sen. Obama proposed amendments that would have killed the legislation. I fought for it.''

In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, McCain said during a Republican primary debate that he would not vote for the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Moderator Janet Hook mentioned that McCain's "original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here," and asked him: "At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote in the Senate floor, would you vote for it?" McCain responded that he would not, "because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first." This position is at odds with his previous position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective.

Further, Reinhard and Klas wrote that "McCain leveled the same charge in ads running in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, which Obama called 'dishonest' in an interview Sunday on Spanish-language television." But it was not just Obama who called the ad "dishonest"; McClatchy Newspapers itself, which owns the Herald, also concluded that the ad was not accurate, as did the editorial page of The New York Times. Reinhard and Klas did not note the McClatchy fact check or otherwise report that others besides Obama have accused the McCain campaign of distortions in the ad.

David Lightman wrote the fact check for McClatchy, which was posted September 12 on miamiherald.com and accused the McCain campaign of "misdirect[ing] blame" for the failure of the immigration bill:

Media accounts cited two votes as effectively killing immigration reform last year -- and Obama was on the same side as McCain in both.

On June 7, supporters failed by 15 votes to cut off a filibuster. McCain and Obama voted to limit debate. The Politico headline the next day: "Senate immigration compromise collapses."

On June 28, another effort to limit debate failed by 14 votes; CNN called it a "crushing defeat." Obama and McCain again voted to cut off debate, but it was largely Republican senators who led the filibuster.

In its review of the 2007 Congress, Congressional Quarterly cited both votes as crucial to killing the immigration measure.

The New York Times called the ad a "gross distortion" in a September 15 editorial titled, "What's Spanish for 'Lies'?" It said, "Hundreds of amendments were proposed to kill it or improve it, depending on your point of view, and some were called 'poison pills' by the 'grand bargainers' who had assembled the unwieldy compromise." It continued:

So, here is what that misleading Spanish ad is referring to.

Mr. Obama supported an amendment from Senator Byron Dorgan, backed by unions, that would have phased out a guest-worker program after five years. The amendment passed, 49 to 48, but it was no poison pill.

"Not one member of Congress stood up and said, 'I'm voting against the bill because of that Dorgan amendment,'" said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an organization supporting comprehensive immigration reform. "It's preposterous. Not even close."

In the end, it wasn't that amendment or any others supported by Mr. Obama that caused the fragile coalition to fall apart. The bill was killed by Mr. McCain's party. Its supporters were hoping to attract 25 to 30 Republican votes, but they could only round up 12, in the wake of all of those right-wing attacks.

From the September 16 Miami Herald article:

Speaking to a predominantly Hispanic audience considered crucial to winning Florida, Republican John McCain vowed Monday to make immigration one of his ''first priorities'' if elected president and accused Democrat Barack Obama of spiking reforms in Congress.

McCain spearheaded a bill in 2006 -- reviled by the right wing of his own party -- that would have allowed illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Obama supported the overall goal but backed controversial amendments that would have limited a guest worker program.

''The fact is that Sen. Obama proposed amendments that would have killed the legislation. I fought for it,'' McCain told more than 350 people at a town hall meeting.

McCain leveled the same charge in ads running in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, which Obama called ''dishonest'' in an interview Sunday on Spanish-language television.

Once pummeled for backing what critics tarred as ''amnesty,'' McCain has talked little about immigration during the general election campaign. He did not raise the issue Monday in Jacksonville, reliably Republican turf where he began a two-day tour that wraps up Tuesday in Tampa.

But Orlando offered a different audience. Central Florida is home to a fast-growing Hispanic community coveted for its political independence, unlike the staunchly Republican Cuban-American voters who have dominated Miami-Dade politics.

Posted In
Immigration, Immigration Reform
Show/Publication
The Miami Herald
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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