Brokaw allowed McCain adviser to falsely claim McCain "called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld"


On NBC's Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw did not challenge Steve Schmidt's false claim that Sen. John McCain "called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld." In fact, the McCain campaign itself reportedly admitted that McCain did not call for Rumsfeld to be fired, or for his resignation.

On the September 28 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, during his interview with McCain campaign senior adviser Steve Schmidt and Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, host Tom Brokaw did not challenge Schmidt's false assertion that Sen. John McCain "called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld" as Defense secretary. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, and the McCain campaign reportedly admitted, McCain did not call for Rumsfeld's dismissal.

Rather than noting the established facts debunking Schmidt's claim, Brokaw concluded the interview by stating, "In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note," then cited the results of a poll question favorable to McCain.

Brokaw has been chosen to moderate the second presidential debate October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

From the September 28 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

BROKAW: I'm going to end on two notes here if I can very quickly. We have a crowded agenda this morning. Let's go back to this business about winning in Iraq, if we can. In fact, a number of people on the Republican side have said that we're winning, but in an interview with the BBC, General David Petraeus said he did not know that he would ever use the word victory about Iraq: "This is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant a flag and go home to a victory parade. ... [I]t's not a war with a simple slogan."

So isn't it misleading, in many ways, for Senator McCain to say we are winning and we'll come home when we have declared victory?

SCHMIDT: Well, absolutely not. Here is what victory means in Iraq. It means an Iraqi government that is able to protect its borders, and it means an Iraqi government that is able to protect its people -- that moves forward on its path to democracy. This country was losing this war. Senator McCain stood up to the Bush administration, called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld, risked his political career to advocate a strategy almost by himself that has led us to the edge of victory there. Senator Barack Obama opposed that strategy. In the debate, you heard not one time from Senator Obama the words victory.

We must win this war. This country doesn't have a choice. Senator Obama's judgment on issues of security to this country, whether it's in Iraq or calling Iran a tiny threat, or saying that --

AXELROD: Tom. Tom --

SCHMIDT: -- he would sit down unconditionally with the Iranian president, without preconditions, make the world more dangerous.

AXELROD: It is --

SCHMIDT: It is a fundamental consideration for the American people.

AXELROD: It is ludicrous -- it is ludicrous to assert after four years of mistake after mistake after mistake, when he didn't challenge Mr. Rumsfeld, when he didn't challenge the Bush policy, when he cheerleaded for it, to then say that he was a critic of the policy --

SCHMIDT: Just like the president, he didn't challenge --

AXELROD: Just a --

SCHMIDT: -- Secretary Rumsfeld --

AXELROD: Just a second, Steve. I let you speak.

SCHMIDT: -- not true, Dave.

AXELROD: I let you speak, let me --

SCHMIDT: Not true.

AXELROD: -- let me finish. What has happened is, as Senator Obama predicted from the beginning, that we got distracted in Iraq, and now Osama bin Laden, who is the person who attacked the United States, killed 3,000 American citizens, is now resurgent. He is stronger, and that's the result of the misbegotten decisions of John McCain.

And he stubbornly wants to continue, even as the Iraqis won't take responsibility, sitting on $79 billion of their own surplus while we spend $10 billion a month. It doesn't make sense. We can't take more of the same, Steve.

SCHMIDT: Well --

BROKAW: In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note, and that is that we continue to poll on who's best-equipped to be commander in chief -- John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama, by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Tom Brokaw
Meet the Press
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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