From the June 3 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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CNN's Chris Cuomo missed a prime opportunity to challenge Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on his inconsistency regarding support for a prisoner swap with the Taliban in exchange for the release of a captive American solider.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American captive held by the Taliban since 2009, was released on May 31, pursuant to an agreement between the White House, the government of Qatar (acting as an intermediary), and the Taliban that secured the release of five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On the June 3 edition of CNN's New Day, Sen. McCain railed against the exchange as "incomprehensible," arguing that it allows the Taliban "to pick the dream team" who will end up "back in the battlefield putting the lives of Americans in danger." Host Chris Cuomo noted that the exchange had "been in the works for years," prompting McCain to double-down on his argument that the exchange was inappropriate:
MCCAIN: The problem that I have, and many others have, is what we paid for that release, and that is, releasing five of the most hardened, anti-American killers, brutal killers, who are, by the way, are also wanted by the international criminal court for their incredible brutality, and the fact that within a very short time, if the past proves true, they'll be back in the battlefield putting the lives of Americans in danger in the future. And that's what most of us find incomprehensible, that the Taliban should be allowed to pick the 'dream team,' as my friend Lindsey Graham called it, and send them to Qatar, and obviously, they will be back in the fight. Thirty percent of those who have already been released from Guantanamo have reentered the fight, and this is the top. These are the people that have blood of thousands on their hands, at least in one case. And so you have to understand what was done in exchange for the release of Sergeant Bergdahl.
CUOMO: The issue of surprise and shock comes up here, Senator. This deal has been in the works for years. The president says he consulted with Congress about this potential trade. Were you consulted with?
MCCAIN: No, and I've talked to members of the intelligence committee, Congressman Rogers, Senator Chambliss. We were at the meeting where they were talking about releasing some Taliban as confidence measures to move negotiations forward, as long as two years ago. There was never discussion that any of us know about this straight-up and all of the aspects of this trade for Sergeant Bergdahl. And that's just a fact.
CUOMO: On whose side, Senator? Is the president hiding the ball of what types of Taliban guys were involved? Or is your side hiding the ball that you knew but you didn't know everything, so you're going to say that you knew nothing?
MCCAIN: Well, we were never told there would be an exchange here of Sergeant Bergdahl for five Taliban. We told they were considering, and we steadfastly, both Republican and Democrats, rejected the notion that they were going to release some of these Taliban in exchange for, "confidence building measures" so that negotiations could continue. What we were briefed on was an entirely different scenario from the one that took place. Look, I'm not one who believes that Congress should bind the hands of the president particularly as commander-in-chief. That's not my problem. My problem is, what we did in exchange, which could put the lives of American servicemen and women in grave danger in the future, unless you believe that this conflict is over and that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have stop wanting to destroy America and repeat of 9/11, then, fine. But they've not, and they're not, and they are growing, despite what the administration says.
Fox News' White House correspondent Ed Henry held up Republican Sen. John McCain as a credible critic of President Obama's foreign policy toward Russia after the senator castigated the decision of several world powers to kick the nation out of the G8 -- but Henry neglected to inform viewers that McCain's position on the significance of such a move has shifted dramatically since 2008.
On the March 25 edition of The Real Story, Henry reported on criticisms from Republicans regarding the fact that the U.S. and other world powers kicked Russia out of the G8, a forum for the world's leading industrialized nations. Henry pointed to comments from McCain, who sarcastically dismissed the importance of the move, to cast President Obama as weak on Russia:
HENRY: You've got Republicans like John McCain saying today that basically look, if Russia's just a regional power, why does it appear that Vladimir Putin is holding the cards here, calling the shots if you will? Especially given the fact that there has been -- the only major action really by the President and European allies has been to kick Russia out of the G8. Here's John McCain today on Imus in the Morning on Fox Business:
MCCAIN: I'm sure that that has got to reduce Vladimir to tears, that he's not going to be able to be in the G8. Take over part of a country and you don't get to go to the next meeting in some wonderful European capitol.
Henry failed to point out McCain's contradictions in the past on revoking Russia's membership in the G8. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, McCain vacillated several times on the efficacy of kicking Russia out of the G8. In a March 28, 2008 speech, McCain advocated for Russia's exclusion from the G8:
We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.
MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out McCain's inconsistency on the subject while writing for Washington Monthly, noting that McCain eventually decided excluding Russia would in fact be an effective method of improving the nation's behavior:
A few months later, the McCain campaign said the senator no longer believed what he said. A McCain adviser told McClatchy that the candidate's policy on Russia and the G-8 as "a holdover from an earlier period," adding, "It doesn't reflect where he is right now."
In July, however, McCain went back to the "earlier period," saying excluding Russia from the G8 would be "what's best for America" and might "improve" Russian behavior.
And more recently, McCain appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose to discuss the Ukraine situation on March 4, saying Russia should be thrown out of the G8 (emphasis added):
MCCAIN: I think, first, I would try the Magnitski which as you know targets individuals and their bank accounts and their ability to travel and all that. I would try that first. Then, obviously, I would look at other areas. You know, throw them out of the G-8, of course. It should be the G-7. A number of other cosmetic kind of don`t -- don`t go -- send our officials to the Paralympics.
But -- but we have to understand what this guy is all about. He`s an old KGB apparatchik. In 2008, the debate that I had with Barack Obama, I said at that time, watch Russia and watch Ukraine and unfortunately, these many years later, I was correct.
Last night, Sean Hannity repeated the tired old falsehood that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan kicked military recruiters off Harvard Law School's campus during her tenure as dean, and that in doing so she was "in violation of U.S. law."
Hannity then asked guest Sen. John McCain to opine on Kagan's qualifications.
McCain offered up a new falsehood, replying:
Well, I'll give the process a chance to work its way through. But I am still outraged. You know the members of the ROTC at Harvard had to go to MIT to do their training. Now here's a school -- the Harvard Law School can produce all of our Supreme Court justices, but Harvard will not allow recruiters to help young men and women serve their country in uniform.
From a March 26 John McCain rally in Tucson, aired on CNN:
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From the March 5 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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National Journal repeatedly referred to how Sen. John McCain "buck[ed] his party on immigration" prior to 2008, but did not address McCain's flip-flop on immigration reform during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The Los Angeles Times dubbed Sen. John McCain a "key Republican" in the immigration debate, but ignored his flip-flop on immigration during the 2008 presidential campaign.
A Media Matters review of the media's coverage of two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. Barack Obama -- his ties to Bill Ayers and Antoin Rezko -- and two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. John McCain -- his reported facilitation of land deals that benefited donors and his association with G. Gordon Liddy -- found that, while the five major newspapers frequently mentioned Obama's ties to Ayers and Rezko throughout the 2008 election cycle, they rarely mentioned McCain's reported facilitation of land deals that benefited donors, and they almost completely ignored McCain's association with Liddy. In addition, the three evening network news broadcasts mentioned Obama's ties to Ayers and Rezko several times, but never reported on McCain's reported facilitation of land deals that benefited donors or his association with Liddy. This despite the fact that the media continued to uncritically report complaints by the McCain campaign that they favored his opponent in their coverage of the presidential race.
Andrea Mitchell said it was "a great irony, a sad irony, for John McCain" that Hispanic voters are "shifting to Barack Obama" even though McCain "lost his Republican base ... partly on supporting immigration reform." But Mitchell did not note that McCain reversed his position on immigration reform, aligning himself more closely with the GOP base, or that McCain stated that he would not support his own reform bill if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
The Washington Post distorted a quote by Sen. Barack Obama in reporting that Sen. John McCain "ma[de] fun of something Obama had told a reporter, 'The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster.' " In fact, Obama said during a January 2008 interview: "The only thing that I've said, with a respect to coal -- I haven't been some coal booster -- what I have said is that, for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter, as opposed to saying, if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it. You know, that I think is the right approach."
The Washington Times falsely suggested that Gov. Bill Richardson said Sen. Barack Obama would raise taxes on Americans making more than $120,000, stating that Sen. John McCain "continued to hammer the Democrat over his plan to tax Americans making more than $250,000 -- a number that has crept down, first to $200,000, then to $150,000 and finally to $120,000." In fact, the number hasn't "crept down," and during the interview to which the Times was referring, Richardson said that under Obama's plan for "those in the middle class, anybody under $250,000, there is no tax increase."
On CNN Newsroom, Jeanne Meserve stated that "[Sen. John] McCain, who twice sponsored immigration reform legislation, blames [Sen. Barack] Obama and the Democrats for its defeat in one of his [Spanish-language] ads, though many analysts say both parties bear responsibility." However, Meserve did not note that McCain has since abandoned his support for the immigration bill he co-sponsored, saying during a January Republican presidential debate that he would no longer vote for it if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
The New York Times quoted McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky saying: "Barack Obama's plans to raise taxes on small businesses and his attacks on Midwestern family farmers have turned off rural voters." But the Times did not point out that less than 2 percent of taxpayers declaring small business income would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.
A Washington Times article stated that Sen. John McCain "drew fresh attention this week to Mr. [Barack] Obama's friendship with Rashid Khalidi" regarding "a 2003 party in Chicago honoring Mr. Khalidi where Mr. Obama gives a speech." But it did not note McCain's own reported "connection to Khalidi": His role as chairman of an organization that awarded a $448,873 grant to an organization Khalidi co-founded.