Reuters and MSNBC.com's First Read reported Gov. Sarah Palin's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "supported cutting off funding for our troops in the war" without noting that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In reports on Gov. Sarah Palin's October 30 speech in Erie, Pa., Reuters and MSNBC.com's First Read uncritically reported Palin's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "supported cutting off funding for our troops in the war." Neither outlet pointed out that Palin's running mate, Sen. John McCain, himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. McCain -- along with all but two of his fellow Republican senators -- voted against a March 2007 bill that would have funded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provided more than $1 billion in additional funds to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
During the September 26 presidential debate, Obama responded to a similar charge from McCain by noting that McCain himself had voted against troop-funding legislation. After McCain stated that Obama "did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama responded: "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."
As Media Matters for America has noted, First Read previously falsely asserted on two occasions that McCain "opposed, but did not vote" on the 2007 troop-funding appropriations bill mentioned above. In fact, while McCain did not vote on a later version of the bill, he voted against the measure on March 29, 2007, and said at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. First Read subsequently posted an "update" to both of its false reports, which read:
*** UPDATE *** Per an amended entry from Factcheck.org: On April 26, 2007, McCain did, in fact, not vote on the final version of a troop-funding bill after it emerged from a House-Senate conference committee. But he DID vote "nay" on an earlier version of the bill when it first moved through the Senate, before the final version was agreed to by a House and Senate compromise.
From Reuters' October 31 article:
Palin, whose selection as Republican John McCain's running mate prompted criticism of her scant national security experience, spoke after meeting a group of retired military commanders and the former leaders of the CIA and the Homeland Security Department.
"Barack Obama didn't have much to say in that long infomercial of his last night about the stakes in the wars America is fighting, or about the need to support the troops in the field, or why he supported cutting off funding to our troops in the war," Palin said.
Palin said Obama's 30-minute television ad on Wednesday sought to wrap his "closing message" before the Nov. 4 election in warm and fuzzy commercial trappings.
From First Read's October 30 blog post:
Palin said while the country may be focused on economic issues, the terrorism threat remains, and she said Obama has tried to change the focus in recent days, including with his half-hour primetime television advertisement Wednesday.
"Now, Barack Obama didn't have much to say in that long infomercial of his last night about the stakes in the wars that America is fighting, or about the need to support the troops in the field, or why he supported cutting off funding for our troops in the war," she said. "He prefers it seems to wrap his 'closing message' in a kind o of that warm and fuzzy commercial message -- that was scripted. He wants to soften the focus in these closing days, hoping that your mind won't wander to the real challenges of national security that I believe he is incapable of meeting."
She said the next president will need to be as focused on Osama bin Laden and Iran as the economic crisis.