Fox News' Kelly repeated false claim that Dean criticized McCain for citing his military service

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On America's Election HQ, Megyn Kelly repeatedly distorted comments by Howard Dean and falsely claimed that Dean charged that "McCain is out there touting his military experience and that there is something opportunistic about it." Several other Fox News hosts have similarly misrepresented Dean's comments.

On the April 3 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, co-host Megyn Kelly repeatedly distorted comments by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and falsely claimed that Dean charged that "McCain is out there touting his military experience and that there is something opportunistic about it." In fact, in a March 28 statement, Dean said:

The American people have been waiting for a president who understands the challenges they face, not another out of touch Bush Republican who promises four more years of the same failed leadership. John McCain can try to reintroduce himself to the country, but he can't change the fact that he cast aside his principles to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush for the last seven years. While we honor McCain's military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn't understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.

Introducing a segment discussing Dean's comments, Kelly asserted, "Howard Dean came out and suggested that John McCain, on this tour that he's doing where he's talking about his background and his military history and so on, is being, and I quote, 'opportunistic.' " She went on to ask former Republican National Committee adviser Terry Holt, "But what do you think, Terry? I mean, do you think he was offended by that? Because here you've got obviously John McCain with an impressive military history being called an opportunist because he's discussing it?" Holt asserted, "Howard Dean isn't the proper spokesman for the Democratic Party to get the Republican nominee's attention." Kelly responded, "What about the underlying charge? Is it a fair one that McCain is out there touting his military experience and that there is something opportunistic about it?"

As Media Matters for America has documented, several Fox News figures -- including Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson and Live Desk host Martha MacCallum -- have similarly distorted Dean's criticism of McCain, echoing a March 29 statement from RNC chairman Robert Duncan that falsely accused Dean of "stating that Senator McCain is a 'blatant opportunist' for discussing his record of military service with the American people."

From the April 3 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:

KELLY: In any event, let me move on to our next topic tonight, which is this dustup between Howard Dean and John McCain. Howard Dean came out and suggested that John McCain, on this tour that he's doing where he's talking about his background and his military history and so on, is being, and I quote, "opportunistic." Well, John McCain was on Fox & Friends this morning and responded. Take a listen to this.

JOHN McCAIN [video clip]: You have to consider the source of that, and you have to move on. I'm pleased with where we are. We're uniting our party. We're making progress.

And I guess you got to expect those things from someone like Mr. Dean and just move on. You can't -- you know, in other words, you don't want to get down in that level. I think it was Bob Dole that said, "You know, you don't want to get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."

KELLY: You know, Kirsten, it sounded so above-board until that last part there. Your reaction?

KIRSTEN POWERS (Fox News political analyst): Yeah, and I technically don't think Bob Dole made up that quote.

KELLY: You don't?

POWERS: I was going to say that.

KELLY: You've heard that one before?

POWERS: I have heard that one before, yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think it's just a cute way of making his point that he doesn't like Howard Dean.

KELLY: But what do you think, Terry? I mean, do you think he was offended by that? Because here you've got obviously John McCain with an impressive military history being called an opportunist because --

HOLT: Yeah, I'm not sure that he --

KELLY: -- he's discussing it?

HOLT: I'm not sure that John McCain pays any more attention to Howard Dean than anybody in the Democratic Party does. This is a guy who's almost irrelevant, and if there hadn't been this side-story about Michigan and Florida and whether we're going to count their ballots, he wouldn't have even been interviewed for real in this campaign election season.

So Howard Dean isn't the proper spokesman for the Democratic Party to get the Republican nominee's attention. I'm sorry.

KELLY: What about the underlying charge? Is it a fair one that McCain is out there touting his military experience and that there is something opportunistic about it?

HOLT: Well, obviously not. McCain's background is in the military and in the Navy. And I think, obviously, on a bio tour, you're going to talk a lot about where you come from, the Vietnam War. Remember, John Kerry's entire campaign was based on the idea that he spent 11 months in Vietnam. I mean, if it's good for John Kerry, it might as well be good for John McCain.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Megyn Kelly
Show/Publication
America's Election HQ
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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