Purporting to read Clark quote, The Hill's Stoddard omitted major parts of Face the Nation exchange

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

In an online video on The Hill's website, A.B. Stoddard purported to "read the quote" from retired Gen. Wesley Clark's interview with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. In fact, Stoddard did not fully "read the quote," omitting major parts of the exchange, including Clark's praise of Sen. John McCain and Schieffer's comments.

During the July 1 edition of The Hill's online video segment "Ask A.B.," Hill associate editor and frequent MSNBC commentator A.B. Stoddard purported to "read the quote" from retired Gen. Wesley Clark's interview with CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, which has received widespread media coverage. But Stoddard did not fully "read the quote," omitting major parts of the exchange, including Clark's praise of Sen. John McCain and Schieffer's comments. Stoddard asserted that Clark "criticized John McCain over the weekend" and said: "[I]f you haven't heard it yet, I'm going to read the quote. He said that McCain hasn't held executive responsibility, that the large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron, and I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is qualification to become president." She continued: "I don't know what you think of those comments. I am not carrying water for the John McCain campaign, but I think they're pretty bad."

But, Stoddard did not "read the quote" or otherwise mention that Clark said of McCain: "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war."

Stoddard also did not note that before Clark said "[t]hat large squadron ... in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron" Schieffer had made the statement: McCain "was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy." Nor did she note that when Clark said "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," it was in direct response to Schieffer's statement that: "I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down."

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, numerous media outlets similarly cropped Clark's comments and falsely suggested that Clark attacked McCain's military service.

From the July 1 edition of "Ask A.B.," posted on The Hill's website:

STODDARD: Speaking of foreign policy, Wes Clark, who was supporting Hillary Clinton ardently, as you know, and is now a good Democrat, getting behind the unity family feeling and supporting Barack Obama, criticized John McCain over the weekend, and if you haven't heard it yet, I'm going to read the quote. He said that McCain hasn't held executive responsibility, that the large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron, and I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is qualification to become president. I don't know what you think of those comments. I am not carrying water for the John McCain campaign, but I think they're pretty bad.

From the June 29 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: With us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark. He was for Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Once Hillary was out of it, he announced that he was supporting Barack Obama -- and let's get right to it here, General. You heard what Senator [Joe] Lieberman [I-CT] said. He said that Barack Obama is simply more ready to be president than Barack Obama.

CLARK: Well, I think Barack -- I think Joe has it exactly backwards here. I think being president is about having good judgment. It's about the ability to communicate. As one of the great presidential historians, Richard Neustadt, said, "The greatest power of the presidency is the power to persuade." And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment -- you look at his meteoric rise in politics, and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together, and who has good judgment in moving forward. And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about the old politics of left and right, and we need to pull together and move the country forward. And I think that's what Barack Obama will do for America.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you -- you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote -- and these are your words -- "untested and untried." And I must say, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years -- how can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy-making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Air -- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, "I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it" --

SCHIEFFER: Well --

CLARK: -- "publicly?" He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Well -- well, General, maybe he --

CLARK: So --

SCHIEFFER: Could I just interrupt you? If --

CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean --

CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

SCHIEFFER: Really?

CLARK: But Barack is not -- he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment -- and those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.

Network/Outlet
The Hill
Person
A.B. Stoddard
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 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.