In two separate items, Wash. Post misled on Obama's response to Lewis statement

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH & GREG LEWIS

In two separate items, The Washington Post reported John McCain's accusation in the October 15 presidential debate that Sen. Barack Obama failed to repudiate comments by Rep. John Lewis without noting that Obama responded by pointing out that his campaign did, in fact, issue a statement saying that Lewis' invocation of George Wallace in criticizing the McCain-Palin ticket was not appropriate.

In his October 16 Washington Post "analysis" of the October 15 presidential debate, chief political reporter Dan Balz wrote that Sen. John McCain "accused" Sen. Barack Obama "of failing to repudiate some of the worst attacks leveled by Democratic allies, pointing to comments over the weekend by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who compared McCain to segregationist George Wallace and warned that McCain and [Gov. Sarah] Palin were empowering the kind of sentiment that led to violence during the civil rights movement." Balz then purported to provide Obama's full response to McCain's claim that Obama "fail[ed] to repudiate" Lewis' remarks, writing, "Obama said the comparison with Wallace was inappropriate, but he also fired back at McCain" by noting controversial audience comments reportedly made at recent McCain-Palin campaign events. In fact, Obama not only said that Lewis "inappropriately drew a comparison between what was happening" at McCain-Palin events and "what had happened during the civil rights movement" -- he also noted during the debate that days earlier, his campaign had "immediately put out a statement saying that we don't think that comparison is appropriate."

Additionally, in a separate October 16 Post article, staff writers Michael D. Shear and Robert Barnes uncritically reported that McCain "told Obama that he should have renounced Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who said that McCain and Palin at their rallies 'were sowing the seeds of hatred and division,' reminding him of the tone set by the late segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace." Shear and Barnes then quoted McCain saying, "That, to me, was so hurtful. And Senator Obama, you didn't repudiate those remarks." Shear and Barnes did not note that, in fact, Obama said he disagreed with Lewis' reference to Wallace in the October 11 campaign statement. Nor did they mention that Obama again said Lewis' invocation of Wallace was "inappropriate[]" during the debate, when prompted by McCain to discuss the matter.

From Balz's October 16 Washington Post "analysis":

McCain accused Obama of failing to repudiate some of the worst attacks leveled by Democratic allies, pointing to comments over the weekend by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who compared McCain to segregationist George Wallace and warned that McCain and Palin were empowering the kind of sentiment that led to violence during the civil rights movement.

"Senator Obama," he said, "you didn't repudiate those remarks. Every time there's been an out-of-bounds remark made by a Republican, no matter where they are, I have repudiated them."

Obama said the comparison with Wallace was inappropriate, but he also fired back at McCain, saying that at GOP rallies, "when my name came up, things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him,' . . . your running mate didn't mention, didn't stop, didn't say, 'Hold on a second -- that's kind of out of line.' "

From Shears and Barnes' October 16 Washington Post article:

McCain and Obama blamed each other for the negative tone of the campaign, with the Republican saying it was caused by his opponent's decision not to hold town hall meetings and because he "spent more money on negative ads than any political campaign in history."

McCain said Obama had backed out of his pledge to take public financing for his campaign and told him: "You didn't keep your word."

He also told Obama that he should have renounced Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who said that McCain and Palin at their rallies "were sowing the seeds of hatred and division," reminding him of the tone set by the late segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.

"That, to me, was so hurtful," McCain said. "And Senator Obama, you didn't repudiate those remarks."

Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Dan Balz, Michael Shear, Robert Barnes
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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