NBC's Todd on McCain's Al Qaeda-Iran "gaffe": "[H]ad Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

On MSNBC Live, while discussing Sen. John McCain's false claim that Iranian operatives are "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back," NBC News political director Chuck Todd asserted: "[T]his was not a one-time slip and ... had Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over."

During the March 19 edition of MSNBC Live, while discussing Sen. John McCain's admittedly false claim during March 18 remarks to reporters in Amman, Jordan, that Iranian operatives are "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back," anchor Mika Brzezinski stated that McCain "had this little slip of the tongue on the Iraq war." After airing a condensed clip of McCain's misstatement, NBC News political director Chuck Todd asserted: "[T]his was not a one-time slip and so, you know, this just shows you how much bank -- how much of the foreign policy experience stuff he's got in the bank, because had [Sen. Hillary] Clinton or [Sen. Barack] Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over, and would have absolutely hurt them politically."

Reporting on McCain's misstatement in a post on The Washington Post's political blog, The Trail, reporters Cameron W. Barr and Michael D. Shear wrote that the "mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists." In addition, Jonathan Martin wrote in a March 18 post on his Politico blog that "McCain has made his expertise on foreign policy front and center in his campaign and is thus uniquely vulnerable when he commits such gaffes."

As Media Matters for America has documented, several media outlets have failed to note McCain's "gaffe" in reporting on his remarks and have echoed the McCain campaign's assertion that he simply "misspoke." In fact, as noted by the blog Think Progress, McCain made the same misstatement to nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt during a March 17 interview, saying, "As you know, there are Al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they're moving back into Iraq."

From the March 19 edition of MSNBC Live:

BRZEZINSKI: And, not to ignore the Republicans, John McCain --

TODD: Actually, John McCain is glad we did yesterday.

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, I'm not ignoring him, though. He had this little slip of the tongue on the Iraq war. Take a look, here it is.

[begin video clip]

McCAIN: It's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that the -- that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That's well-known, and it's unfortunate.

[Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) leans into picture]

McCAIN: What?

LIEBERMAN (to McCain): You said that the Iranians were training Al Qaeda* --

McCAIN: I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.

[end video clip]

BRZEZINSKI: OK, good thing Lieberman was there.

TODD: Right. And the thing is --

BRZEZINSKI: Lieberman was there.

TODD: The thing is -- yeah, exactly. The thing is, this is the second time that he's done it. You know --

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

TODD: -- this was not a one-time slip and so, you know, this just shows you how much bank -- how much of the foreign policy experience stuff he's got in the bank, because had Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over, and would have absolutely hurt them politically.

BRZEZINSKI: Hmm.

TODD: For now, McCain is showing the advantages of not having the media very focused on his candidacy right now.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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