Reporting attacks over troop funding votes, Politico ignores McCain's own record

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In repeating a claim by a campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain that "McCain would continue to criticize Obama for voting against a bill that included funding for troops," Politico reporters Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin didn't note that McCain himself has voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as Obama pointed out during their September 26 presidential debate.

In a September 27 article, Politico reporters Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin wrote that "[b]oth campaigns said they would pick favorite moments from the debate to highlight in the days to come. [Senior campaign adviser Matt] McDonald said [Sen. John] McCain would continue to criticize [Sen. Barack] Obama for voting against a bill that included funding for troops." However, Smith and Martin didn't note that McCain himself has voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as Obama pointed out during the September 26 presidential debate. After McCain claimed Obama "vot[ed] to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama stated: "John always brings this up. ... Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable."

As the Associated Press reported on September 27: "Despite opposing the war, Obama has, with one exception, voted for Iraq troop financing. In 2007, he voted against a troop funding bill because it did not contain language calling for a troop withdrawal. The Illinois senator backed another bill that had such language -- and money for the troops."

Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented that the Politico and numerous other media outlets have uncritically repeated the McCain campaign's claims about Obama and troop funding without noting McCain's own vote.

From the September 26 debate:

McCAIN: It was a stratagem. And that same strategy will be employed in Afghanistan by this great general. And Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

OBAMA: [Moderator] Jim [Lehrer], there are a whole bunch of things we have got to answer. First of all, let's talk about this troop funding issue because John always brings this up. Senator McCain cut -- Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable.

I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops.

From the September 27 Politico article:

Both campaigns said they would pick favorite moments from the debate to highlight in the days to come. McDonald said McCain would continue to criticize Obama for voting against a bill that included funding for troops. [Obama campaign chief strategist David] Axelrod said McCain's focus on federal budget issues, rather than bread and butter -- and his failure to mention the words "middle class" during the debate -- would dog him.

"He just doesn't get what's going on with the middle class," Axelrod said.

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