Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ignored Obama statement undermining McCain accusation on U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain "asserted that Mr. [Barack] Obama doesn't seem interested in keeping" a special U.S. envoy to aid the peacekeeping process in Northern Ireland. In fact, the Obama campaign has stated that, if elected president, Obama "will appoint a senior envoy to Ireland who will build on the groundbreaking achievements of the Clinton Administration and help bring the historic process to final fruition."

In a September 23 article on Sen. John McCain's September 22 speech at the Irish-American Presidential Forum, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncritically reported that McCain "asserted that Mr. [Barack] Obama doesn't seem interested in keeping" a special U.S. envoy to aid the peacekeeping process in Northern Ireland. In fact, while McCain claimed in his speech that Obama "has questioned whether that appointment is needed" and added, "I would urge him to reconsider," the Obama campaign stated in a September 18 press release that "if he [Obama] becomes president, he will appoint a senior envoy to Ireland who will build on the groundbreaking achievements of the Clinton Administration and help bring the historic process to final fruition." The Post-Gazette article did not report the Obama campaign statement or otherwise mention that Obama supports reappointing a special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. In addition, the article quoted McCain attacking Obama for votes he took on amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, without noting that McCain said during the Republican primary this year that he would no longer vote for that bill -- which he co-sponsored -- if it were to come up again in the Senate.

On September 19, the Irish Americans for Obama Biden website -- which bills itself as "a clearinghouse for Irish-related statements from the Obama/Biden campaign and from supporters of Barak Obama and Joe Biden" -- posted the following press release from the Obama campaign, which the group reported was issued the previous day:

Senator Obama has long said that, if elected president, he intends to invest the full weight of his office in the vital Irish peace process.

After consultations with the members of his senior panel of advisers on Irish issues and informal soundings with British and Irish officials, Senator Obama has said that if he becomes president, he will appoint a senior envoy to Ireland who will build on the groundbreaking achievements of the Clinton Administration and help bring the historic process to final fruition.

The Obama campaign statement was also reported on September 19 by The Irish Echo, which describes itself as "The USA's most widely read Irish American Newspaper."

Prior to the September 18 statement, the Obama campaign had stated that Obama would "consult" with Irish and British politicians to "determine whether a special U.S. envoy for Northern Ireland continues to be necessary." According to a previous Obama campaign "Irish Statement," posted on the Irish Americans for Obama Biden website on September 5 and reportedly "[i]ssued by the Obama Campaign on August 25, 2008":

Barack Obama understands that U.S. attention and support will be required to solidify the peace. But he also recognizes that the crisis period for Northern Ireland has passed and that the people of Northern Ireland are now in charge of their own destiny. He will consult with the Taoiseach, the British Prime Minister, and party leaders in Northern Ireland to determine whether a special U.S. envoy for Northern Ireland continues to be necessary or whether a senior administration official, serving as point person for Northern Ireland, would be most effective. As president, Barack Obama will personally engage on Irish issues whenever necessary.

Concerning immigration, the Post-Gazette reported that McCain "vowed to seek a temporary worker program so 50,000 Irish immigrants now in the U.S. can work legally," and then quoted McCain as saying: "That program didn't make me popular with some people in my own party ... but I took those tough votes anyway. My opponent, Senator [Barack] Obama, just took a hike. Union bosses don't want a temporary worker program and Mr. Obama voted with the union bosses."

But in reporting McCain's attack on Obama for taking "a hike" on "tough votes" -- a reference to amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 -- the Post-Gazette did not note that McCain said during a Republican primary debate that he no longer supports the underlying legislation, which he co-sponsored with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). During the debate, 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.

From the September 23 Post-Gazette article:

John McCain played the Irish card yesterday, and it sure looked like a winner.

Mr. McCain became the first Republican presidential candidate to appear before the Irish-American Presidential Forum since it began in 1984. It usually meets at its home base in New York City.

The Arizona senator talked partly about issues of special interest to Irish Americans, pledging to reappoint a special U.S. envoy who is helping the new Protestant-Catholic coalition government keep peace in Northern Ireland, and vowed to seek a temporary worker program so 50,000 Irish immigrants now in the U.S. can work legally.

"That program didn't make me popular with some people in my own party," he said, "but I took those tough votes anyway. My opponent, Senator [Barack] Obama, just took a hike. Union bosses don't want a temporary worker program and Mr. Obama voted with the union bosses."

Former President Bill Clinton first appointed the special envoy 10 years ago, and President Bush named another. But Mr. McCain asserted that Mr. Obama doesn't seem interested in keeping the envoy. The audience of 2,000 at the Scranton Cultural Center, clearly on Mr. McCain's side, booed loudly.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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