Hill article on McCain's response to "bitch" question ignored "excellent question" remark

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

In an article about a report from CNN's Out in the Open on Sen. John McCain's recent exchange with a supporter in Hilton Head, South Carolina, The Hill reported that McCain's "campaign laments that CNN portrayed the event as though McCain did not defend [Sen. Hillary] Clinton forcefully enough. The senator, in the short video clip, expressed his respect for the former first lady." But the article did not note that McCain described the question -- "How do we beat the bitch?" -- as "excellent."

A November 14 article in The Hill by Klaus Marre reported that "[t]he camp of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hoped to capitalize Wednesday on what it says was a biased report on CNN about a campaign event at which a McCain supporter referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as 'the bitch.' " The article, which the Drudge Report linked to, referred to a McCain press release and email reacting to a report on the November 13 edition of CNN's Out in the Open by anchor Rick Sanchez. Sanchez noted McCain's response, during a campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, to an audience member who asked, "How do we beat the bitch?" The Hill article reported: "The campaign laments that CNN portrayed the event as though McCain did not defend Clinton forcefully enough. The senator, in the short video clip, expressed his respect for the former first lady." But nowhere in the article did Marre note that McCain described the question as "excellent."

Further, The Hill did not mention that while the clip Sanchez aired showed McCain praising the question as an "excellent" one, the clip also showed McCain saying: "I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat [sic] Party."

Moreover, The Hill did not note that the email from McCain's campaign falsely claimed that "Senator McCain first responded by saying that he respected Senator Clinton, as he has said repeatedly throughout the campaign. Then, focusing on the question, he pointed to the new Rasmussen national poll showing that he is the only Republican candidate who can beat her in a general election." In fact, according to a video of the exchange, posted on YouTube by the Veracifier blog, McCain's first response to the question was, "May I give ... the translation?" He then added, "But that's an excellent question," before mentioning the Rasmussen poll. Only then did he state he had "respect" for Clinton. On the blog Talking Points Memo, reporter-blogger Greg Sargent noted the email's false claim.

From the November 13 edition of CNN's Out in the Open:

SANCHEZ: You know, this could be real bad for John McCain. I want you to watch this that we're about to show you. You'll probably see its first pass here, and then I have a feeling you'll be seeing it a lot.

Producer comes in early in the morning today to my office and shows me this video. You're going to hear a McCain supporter. She refers to Hillary Clinton using really what is a horrible word that is used to do nothing but demean women.

Well, at the time, it was a supporter who said that. It wasn't until later on, when we watched the whole tape, which is what you're about to see, that you see McCain's reaction, or lack thereof, that we decided that this is both relevant and newsworthy -- an important information to this campaign.

All right, let me set it up for you. He's campaigning in South Carolina yesterday when suddenly this happened. Obviously, the word that's used here is very offensive. We'll let you listen to the entire thing so you can decide for yourself. Here it is.

[begin video clip]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we beat the bitch?

[laughter]

McCAIN: May I give the -- may I give the translation?

[laughter]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: Leave it alone.

McCAIN: The way that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: John, I thought she was talking about my ex-wife.

[laughter]

McCAIN: But that's an excellent question.

[...]

McCAIN: I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat [sic] Party.

[end video clip]

SANCHEZ: "That's an excellent question," he says.

This is a fellow senator that he's talking about. No matter what you think of Hillary Clinton, is John McCain done as a result of this? Is this going to become a viral video? This is the kind of questions that we got to examine at this point. We're going to be looking at a lot of these issues.

The November 14 Hill article, headlined "McCain camp goes after CNN," in its entirety:

The camp of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hoped to capitalize Wednesday on what it says was a biased report on CNN about a campaign event at which a McCain supporter referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as "the bitch."

Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, said in an e-mail to supporters that CNN owes the Arizona Republican an apology for its reporting of the story.

The campaign laments that CNN portrayed the event as though McCain did not defend Clinton forcefully enough. The senator, in the short video clip, expressed his respect for the former first lady.

"The CNN Network, affectionately known as the Clinton News Network, has stooped to an all-time low and is gratuitously attacking John McCain for not sufficiently defending Hillary Clinton enough when a South Carolina voter used the 'B' word to describe her when John McCain stopped into a luncheon yesterday at the Trinity restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C.," Davis said in his e-mail.

The McCain campaign manager portrayed the CNN report as an attempt by the liberal media to stop the surging Arizona Republican.

"The liberal media has figured out that John McCain is the only thing that stands between a Hillary Clinton presidency, and they are therefore trying to stop the McCain comeback," Davis said. "Simply put, CNN is scared that John McCain will beat Hillary Clinton. They are right to be scared."

The e-mail to supporters comes with a call to support the campaign financially.

"We need your help," Davis wrote. "We need you to stand with John McCain, a man of honor, integrity and love of country, against the liberal media and liberal blogosphere that are trying to bring him down."

Earlier Wednesday, McCain's South Carolina campaign manager Buzz Jacobs had condemned the CNN report and anchor Rich Sanchez.

"It is disappointing that Mr. Sanchez would choose to engage in sensationalism in the hopes of generating a story," Jacobs said. "It not only reflects poorly on him, but on CNN.

"If Mr. Sanchez had even the faintest perspective on the race for the White House, he would know that Sen. McCain has expressed his utmost respect for Sen. Clinton numerous times on the campaign trail, as he did at Monday's event in Hilton Head," Jacobs added.

Network/Outlet
The Drudge Report, The Hill
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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