Chicago Tribune repeated baseless suggestion that Obama attacked McCain's age, linked comment to 2000 smears of McCain

››› ››› LILY YAN

The Chicago Tribune juxtaposed smears on Sen. John McCain in 2000 with Sen. Barack Obama's May 8 comment that McCain was "losing his bearings" without noting the context of Obama's remarks that would have made clear that the Tribune was advancing a false comparison. Obama made the remark in response to an attack by McCain and was accusing McCain of violating his pledge to avoid negative campaigning.

In a June 13 article, Chicago Tribune Washington correspondent Christi Parsons juxtaposed smears on Sen. John McCain in 2000 with Sen. Barack Obama's comment on May 8 that McCain was "losing his bearings" without noting the context of Obama's remarks that would have made clear that Parsons was advancing a false comparison. Parsons also did not note that, contrary to the allegation by the McCain campaign included in her article, Obama categorically denies that the "losing his bearings" comment was a dig at McCain's age. Unlike the gratuitous smears Parsons mentioned that were directed at McCain during his 2000 presidential bid, Obama was himself responding to an attack by McCain. And in saying that McCain seemed to be "losing his bearings," Obama was remarking on McCain's apparent departure from his pledge not to engage in negative campaigning. Parsons wrote: "Sen. John McCain fell victim to a whisper campaign in 2000 in South Carolina, where he lost to George W. Bush amid gossip that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock and that he was mentally unstable from his years as a POW during Vietnam. Now McCain quickly responds to attacks he thinks are personal. When Obama recently accused McCain of 'losing his bearings,' for instance, a senior aide dashed off a scathing memo accusing him of suggesting McCain, 71, was too old to be president."

As Media Matters for America has documented, during Obama's interview on the May 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer quoted McCain as saying, "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly." In response, Obama told Blitzer that McCain's assertion was "disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics." Obama went on to say: "I've said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they're willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And, so, for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don't need name-calling in this debate."

Parsons did not note that Obama spokesman Bill Burton denied that Obama was referring to McCain's age.

From Parsons' article, which discussed the Obama campaign's newly launched website, Fight the Smears:

Sen. John McCain fell victim to a whisper campaign in 2000 in South Carolina, where he lost to George W. Bush amid gossip that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock and that he was mentally unstable from his years as a POW during Vietnam.

Now McCain quickly responds to attacks he thinks are personal. When Obama recently accused McCain of "losing his bearings," for instance, a senior aide dashed off a scathing memo accusing him of suggesting McCain, 71, was too old to be president.

Campaigns used to trust that fact-checking editors would limit the circulation of false rumors, but those editors aren't running the show in the Internet age.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Elections
Network/Outlet
Chicago Tribune
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.