Referring to a response given by Sen. John McCain at the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson asserted that "he doesn't like to talk about when he was a POW." In fact, McCain has repeatedly highlighted his experience as a POW, even as he and the media have promoted the notion that he is reluctant to do so.
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Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, in an August 18 recap of the performances of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain at the August 16 Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency in California, said she thought "McCain was revealing a lot of his personal side" and asserted that "he doesn't like to talk about when he was a POW," repeating a false claim the media have advanced despite repeated references by McCain and his campaign to his experience as a prisoner of war.
Appearing after Obama at the forum, McCain said "the most gut-wrenching decision" he ever made was refusing an offer of early release from a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp ahead of POWs who had been in captivity longer than he had. On the August 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Carlson said of McCain's forum answers: "I thought for the first time John McCain was revealing a lot of his personal side. You know, he doesn't like to talk about when he was a POW or, for that matter, his religion."
Media Matters has noted that McCain has repeatedly highlighted his experience as a POW, even as he and the media have promoted the notion that he is reluctant to do so. For example, in a June 28 speech at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference, after speaking about energy policy and immigration reform, McCain said [from prepared remarks]: "When I was in prison in Vietnam, I like other of my fellow POWs, was offered early release by my captors. Most of us refused because we were bound to our code of conduct, which said those who had been captured the earliest had to be released the soonest. My friend, Everett Alvarez, a brave American of Mexican descent, had been shot down years before I was, and had suffered for his country much more and much longer than I had. To leave him behind would have shamed us."
After the Saddleback forum, The New York Times reported there had been some concern from Obama supporters that McCain was not completely isolated during Obama's appearance with Pastor Rick Warren. The Times quoted McCain campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace's response, in which Wallace referred to McCain's POW experience: "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."
From the August 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
REV. JOEL HUNTER (senior pastor of Northland Church, Orlando, Florida): Well, I think it was two different approaches. Obama was very deliberative. But in front of an evangelical audience, you've got a bunch of people looking for "amen" lines. And so from that perspective, McCain really did well. I think he missed a couple of opportunities, I think Obama missed a couple of opportunities, and so, for those who are thinking through it, it's a little bit more even, but McCain did have a good night.
CARLSON: Ralph [Reed], real quickly, and then we're going to come back to you guys after the break. But, I thought for the first time John McCain was revealing a lot of his personal side. You know, he doesn't like to talk about when he was a POW or, for that matter, his religion. But to me, it was very compelling to hear these personal stories from him.