Gregory falsely equated Obama remark with McCain's "fundamentals of our economy are strong" comment

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

NBC's David Gregory falsely equated March 13 comments by President Obama with Sen. John McCain's September 2008 comment that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong." In fact, Obama did not comment on the broad "fundamentals" of the economy in his March 13 remarks.

During an interview with Sen. John McCain on the March 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory falsely equated March 13 comments by President Obama with McCain's September 2008 comment that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong." Gregory said to McCain: "On the economy -- I don't have to remind you -- during the campaign, you said that, as this financial crisis was really unraveling, as the economy was taking a dive, that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. You were criticized as being out of it, not getting it, not understanding the economy. And yet, just a couple of weeks ago, this was the president in the Oval Office." Gregory then aired a March 13 clip of Obama saying, "If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy ... then we're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that." But as Media Matters for America has documented, in his March 13 comments, Obama did not comment on the broad "fundamentals" of the economy; rather, Obama cited specific "fundamentally sound aspects of our economy," including, "all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy."

By contrast, Obama criticized McCain in September 2008 for broadly stating that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." Following Obama's criticism, McCain revised his comments to claim that by "fundamentals," he had been referring to "the American worker, and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business."

From Obama's March 13 speech:

OBAMA: If you've been laid off your job, if you've lost your home, then, you know, right now is very tough. But we're providing help along the way. That's why we put a housing program in place; that's why we're going to be announcing additional steps to help small businesses.

But if we are -- if we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that.

From McCain's September 15, 2008, speech:

McCAIN: As you know, there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street, and it is -- it's -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult time. And I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government.

Following McCain's September speech, the Obama campaign immediately criticized McCain's remarks. In a speech in Grand Junction, Colorado, hours after McCain's remarks, Obama said, in part:

OBAMA: It's not that I think John McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of most Americans. I just think [he] doesn't know. He doesn't get what's happening between the mountain in Sedona where he lives and the corridors of Washington where he works. Why else would he say that we've made great progress economically under George Bush? Why else would he say that the economy isn't something he understands as well as he should? Why else would he say, today, of all days -- just a few hours ago -- that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong? Senator -- what economy are you talking about?

Numerous media outlets documented that McCain changed his message on the economy after the Obama campaign criticized his comment. Indeed, later that day during a campaign stop in Orlando, Florida, McCain said: "And my opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals -- the American worker, and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business -- those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they're strong." During the same appearance, McCain also said: "The fundamentals of our economy are at risk. ... And those fundamentals are threatened, they are threatened and at risk because some on Wall Street have treated Wall Street like a casino.''

From the March 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

GREGORY: On the economy -- I don't have to remind you -- during the campaign, you said that, as this financial crisis was really unraveling, as the economy was taking a dive, that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. You were criticized as being out of it, not getting it, not understanding the economy. And yet, just a couple of weeks ago, this was the president in the Oval Office -- watch.

OBAMA [video clip]: If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy ... then we're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that.

GREGORY: What did you think when you saw that?

McCAIN: I think we're in agreement. I think what the president is saying now -- and it's needed to be said to the American people -- that we have the best workers, we're the most innovative, we're the most productive. We still have the fundamentals of a very strong economy and we need some confidence to get through this. We need -- that's part of the recovery. So, I'm glad we're in agreement.

GREGORY: But in the campaign, do you think that criticism was unfair?

McCAIN: Look, life isn't fair, we all know that.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
David Gregory
Show/Publication
Meet the Press
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