ABC reported McCain's comment that "economy is broken," but not previous day's comment that "fundamentals of our economy are strong"

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

ABC's David Wright aired a quote of Sen. John McCain saying during a September 16 speech that "[o]ur economy is broken." But Wright did not note that the previous day -- and many times before that -- McCain made a remark that was flatly inconsistent with that comment, saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

During a September 16 ABC World News segment on Sens. Barack Obama's and John McCain's recent comments on the economy, correspondent David Wright aired a quote of McCain saying during a September 16 speech that "[o]ur economy is broken." But Wright did not note that the previous day, and many times before that, McCain made a remark that was flatly inconsistent with his assertion that the "economy is broken" -- stating that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

Rather than report that McCain made flatly inconsistent comments over the two days, Wright aired a different comment McCain made at the September 15 appearance, saying: "There's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets."

Additionally, Wright failed to note that, according to several media outlets -- including ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper -- McCain changed his message on the economy after the Obama campaign highlighted the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" comment.

By contrast, NBC Nightly News correspondent Kelly O'Donnell reported that McCain said that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" and that McCain later "defined -- or perhaps refined -- fundamentals not as economic facts and figures, but as working people":

O'DONNELL: McCain's trouble here is in part of his own making, with these words:

McCAIN [video clip]: Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

O'DONNELL: But today he defined -- or perhaps, refined -- fundamentals, not as economic facts and figures but as working people.

McCAIN [video clip]: And this foundation of our economy, the American worker, is strong.

From the September 16 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

WRIGHT: It's not like they haven't been talking about it.

McCAIN: There's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets.

OBAMA: We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations.

McCAIN: Our economy is broken.

OBAMA: What we need now is leadership that gets us out.

WRIGHT: But what are the campaigns actually proposing? Both are now promising tougher regulations for Wall Street. McCain's called for a 9/11-type commission, to recommend reforms that would bring greater accountability. Obama has identified six specific reforms, including giving regulators greater enforcement powers.

FRED BERGSTEN (director, Peterson Institute for International Economics): I don't think either has put forward a really cogent or persuasive package.

WRIGHT: But economists say cracking down on Wall Street could well have an impact on Main Street, making it harder for Americans to qualify for a mortgage, for one.

TOM GALLAGHER (economist, ISI Group Inc.): Everyone's for tighter regulation here. The fact of the matter is that's going to make it harder for some people to get credit, compared to the way it was.

WRIGHT: Perhaps the sharpest difference between the two is over the taxes people pay. McCain believes cutting taxes across the board would promote economic growth. He'd make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, cut corporate taxes, and double the personal exemption for dependents. Obama would raise taxes on the wealthy, people who make more than $250,000 a year, but cut them for most households. He'd give middle-class families a $1,000 tax credit and cut taxes completely for seniors on fixed incomes.

Here in the Rust Belt and across the country, Obama and McCain have been trying to convince voters they feel their pain and will do something about it. On the mortgage crisis, McCain says he'd encourage lenders to refinance loans for responsible homeowners; Obama would rely on a government fund to help people avoid foreclosure and would reduce taxes for low- and middle-income homeowners who don't itemize.

BERGSTEN: Neither candidate has really addressed the cardinal, long-run macroeconomic problems of the economy -- that is, basically, the budget deficit.

WRIGHT: Both candidates frame the economy as a leadership issue: McCain the maverick versus Obama the agent of change. And so far, neither candidate has managed to convince the voters that he has all the answers. David Wright, ABC News, Warren, Ohio.

From a September 15 speech by McCain, aired during the September 15 edition of CNN Newsroom:

McCAIN: As you know, there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street, and it is -- it's -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult time. And I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government.

From a September 16 speech by McCain, aired during the September 16 edition of CNN's Your World Today:

McCAIN: the working people of the state of Florida and this nation are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world. And this -- this foundation of our economy, the American worker, is strong. But it's been put at great risk by the greed and mismanagement of Wall Street and Washington. I'll give you some straight talk, my friends. The top of our -- the top of our economy is broken. We've seen self-interest, greed, irresponsibility, and corruption undermine the hard work of the American people. It's time to set things right, and I promise to get the job done as your president.

From the September 16 edition of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

O'DONNELL: This is Kelly O'Donnell, traveling in Florida and Ohio with John McCain and Sarah Palin. And late today, McCain fired back at Obama, matching mocking tone for mocking tone. McCain made a special point of telling voters near hard-hit Youngstown where Obama is tonight.

McCAIN [video clip]: Talked about siding with the people, siding with the people, just before he flew off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends.

O'DONNELL: McCain spent much of the day arguing his case, that he gets how bad things are and accusing Obama of using hard times for political gain.

McCAIN [video clip]: Senator Obama saw an economic crisis and has found a political opportunity. My friends, this is not a time for political opportunism, this is a time for leadership.

O'DONNELL: McCain's trouble here is in part of his own making, with these words:

McCAIN [video clip]: Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

O'DONNELL: But today he defined -- or perhaps, refined -- fundamentals, not as economic facts and figures but as working people.

McCAIN [video clip]: And this foundation of our economy, the American worker, is strong.

O'DONNELL: Campaign advisers reject Obama's charge that McCain's idea to create a commission somehow passes the buck by arguing that a bipartisan group that includes outside experts could, quote, "take the politics out of it." During McCain's 20-plus years in Congress, he says he's predicted trouble for mortgage giants, warned about CEO excesses. But he's also been cool to adding more government control, telling The Wall Street Journal in March, "I'm always for less regulation." And this morning with Matt Lauer on Today:

McCAIN: I don't like excessive and unnecessary government regulation -- ask any American citizen who is subject to bureaucracies. But the fact is, I warned about this problem couple years ago.

O'DONNELL: And Brian, when an adviser today was stressing John McCain's economic credentials, he told reporters that McCain, quote, "helped make this little miracle happen" -- the BlackBerry or cell phone -- citing his work on the Commerce Committee. When McCain heard about it, he laughed. Another adviser said McCain's not claiming to have invented anything and said that was a bone-headed comment. Just another day on the trail, Brian.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
David Wright
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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