Previewing part of her interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), aired on the October 19 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric promised the audience "some straight talk about his presidential ambitions," then lobbed McCain a series of softball questions, at one point asking: "So, why don't you give us a little straight talk, Senator, and tell us when you'll announce you'll be running for president." In characterizing McCain's comments as "straight talk," then asking him for "a little straight talk," Couric played into McCain's self-styled reputation as a "straight talker," which, as Media Matters for America documented, has persisted in the media despite the senator's numerous flip-flops, reversals, backtracks, and inconsistencies on several key issues.
From the October 19 broadcast of the CBS Evening News:
COURIC: Earlier today, I spoke with Senator John McCain and asked him about the situation in Iraq.
[begin video clip]
COURIC: Is a new strategy required here?
McCAIN: I think that, first of all, things are very serious there. And to say otherwise I don't think would be an accurate depiction of events, and this is a very critical time.
COURIC: You have repeatedly urged sending more troops --
COURIC: -- to Iraq. Do you really think that that is the answer?
McCAIN: I would increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by some 100,000 people, and I would send more troops over there, where necessary, and I would listen very carefully to my military commanders.
COURIC: It seems as if there are no good options here.
McCAIN: There are no good options. I agree with you. And it's very difficult. And mistakes have been made. But I sincerely believe that if we withdraw now at this critical time that we will pay a very heavy price there, in the -- in the region, or even here.
[end video clip]
COURIC: And we'll have more of my interview with Senator McCain later in the broadcast, including some straight talk about his presidential ambitions.
COURIC: As you know, in "Free Speech" we bring you the thoughts and opinions of people from all walks of life on a variety of subjects. Tonight, same theme, different format. Senator John McCain stopped by our studio this afternoon for a wide-ranging conversation, and I asked him why the Republicans are in such trouble heading into the midterm elections.
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McCAIN: I believe that we Republicans have a message and a strong one -- a good economy, low inflation, low unemployment. America is safer. But to somehow state that we don't have enormous challenge, I think, would not be accurate. We do.
COURIC: And what has the GOP not done right?
McCAIN: We haven't reformed immigration. We haven't reformed lobbying. We haven't reformed ethics. We haven't made many of the reforms that I think we want. I think our base is very angry. Our conservative -- fiscal conservative base is angry that we haven't restrained spending more.
COURIC: What scares you the most about the possibility of a Democratic majority?
McCAIN: Gridlock. I worry about gridlock.
COURIC: Well, you don't have gridlock now, senator?
McCAIN: I think we've made some progress in a number of areas, and there is an agenda that the Democratic Party has, which is a more liberal philosophy than our conservative philosophy. I mean, that's why we have two parties.
COURIC: So, why don't you just give us a little straight talk, Senator, and tell us when you'll announce you'll be running for president.
McCAIN: Early next year.
COURIC: So, there's no question in your mind that you will take the plunge.
McCAIN: Oh, no, we will decide. We will decide after the election and then -- then make an announcement as to whether or not in early next year.
COURIC: I know you're not Carnac, but what do you think Capitol Hill will look like?
McCAIN: You just saw the -- the recent poll -- that 16 percent of the American people approve of Congress, the lowest numbers that we have seen. We should all dedicate ourselves on the day after the election to do a better job in ethics and lobbying reform and saving Social Security and addressing the concerns of American families.
COURIC: And yet, it never seems to be accomplished.
McCAIN: I think things are now at a point where we will listen to the American people and do a better job.
COURIC: Well, Senator McCain thanks so much for coming in to visit us here at CBS News.
McCAIN: Thanks, Katie.
[end video clip]