NY Times uncritically reported McCain ad and "talking point" that Obama "said [during debate] he agreed with his rival's positions"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

The New York Times uncritically reported in an article that the McCain campaign "released an Internet video citing several instances in which Mr. Obama had said he agreed with his rival's positions, a talking point that began to emerge even as the debate was going on here Friday night." However, the Times did not note that, in each instance, Sen. Barack Obama was actually criticizing Sen. John McCain after first noting a point of agreement.

In a September 27 article reporting that the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are trying to "influence[e] the public perception of who won an encounter that produced no clear winner or loser," The New York Times uncritically reported that "the McCain campaign had already released an Internet video citing several instances in which Mr. Obama had said he agreed with his rival's positions, a talking point that began to emerge even as the debate was going on here Friday night." However, the Times did not note that, in each instance, Obama was actually criticizing McCain after first noting a point of agreement.

As Media Matters for America has noted, McCain's ad featured three different instances in which Obama agreed with McCain. However, in each instance, the ad omitted Obama's following remarks, in which Obama criticized McCain after first noting a point of agreement on the topic Obama was discussing. For instance, regarding Wall Street, McCain's ad quoted Obama stating, "I think Senator McCain's absolutely right that we need more responsibility, bu --." However, the ad omitted the rest of Obama's remarks: "[B]ut we need it not just when there's a crisis. I mean, we've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street." Obama also said that "10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound." From the debate [remarks McCain ad quoted are bolded]:

LEHRER: Do you have something directly to say, Senator Obama, to Senator McCain about what he just said?

OBAMA: Well, I think Senator McCain's absolutely right that we need more responsibility, but we need it not just when there's a crisis. I mean, we've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street.

And there are folks out there who've been struggling before this crisis took place. And that's why it's so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the -- a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

McCain's ad also quoted Obama saying that "Senator McCain is absolutely right that the earmarks process has been abused." Again, however, the ad omitted Obama's criticisms of McCain moments later in which he said: "But let's be clear: Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year's budget. Senator McCain is proposing -- and this is a fundamental difference between us -- $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion." From the debate:

OBAMA: Well, Senator McCain is absolutely right that the earmarks process has been abused, which is why I suspended any requests for my home state, whether it was for senior centers or what have you, until we cleaned it up.

And he's also right that oftentimes lobbyists and special interests are the ones that are introducing these kinds of requests, although that wasn't the case with me.

But let's be clear: Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year's budget. Senator McCain is proposing -- and this is a fundamental difference between us -- $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion.

Now, $18 billion is important; $300 billion is really important.

And in his tax plan, you would have CEOs of Fortune 500 companies getting an average of $700,000 in reduced taxes, while leaving 100 million Americans out.

So, my attitude is, we've got to grow the economy from the bottom up. What I've called for is a tax cut for 95 percent of working families -- 95 percent. And that means that the ordinary American out there who's collecting a paycheck every day, they've got a little extra money to be able to buy a computer for their kid, to fill up on this gas that is killing them and, over time, that, I think, is going to be a better recipe for economic growth than the policies of President Bush that John McCain wants to follow.

McCain's ad quoted Obama saying: "John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he's absolutely right." But the ad omitted Obama's remarks, immediately following, in which he said: "Here's the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world." From the debate:

OBAMA: Now, John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he's absolutely right. Here's the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

And what that means, then, is that there are people out there who are working every day, who are not getting a tax cut, and you want to give them more.

It's not like you want to close the loopholes; you just want to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes -- and that's a problem.

Just one last point I want to make, since Senator McCain talked about providing a $5,000 health credit. Now, what he doesn't tell you is that he intends to, for the first time in history, tax health benefits. So, you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here's the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you're getting from your employer, and if you end up losing your health care from your employer, you've got to go out on the open market and try to buy it. It is not a good deal for the American people.

But it's an example of this notion that the market can always solve everything, and that the less regulation we have, the better off we're going to be.

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.