Media uncritically repeat, echo false charge that Obama attacked Cindy in ad about John McCain

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

While discussing an Obama campaign ad that noted Sen. John McCain's reported inability to say how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own, MSNBC's Joe Watkins claimed, "I thought that Barack Obama was not going to attack Senator McCain's wife." The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder uncritically reported the McCain campaign's claim that "Obama's charges 'attack Cindy. She owns the homes.' " But Obama's ad neither mentions nor refers to Cindy McCain or the McCains as a couple.

On the July 21 edition of MSNBC's Verdict, while discussing Sen. Barack Obama's campaign ad "Seven," which noted McCain's reported inability to say in an interview how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own, MSNBC political analyst Joe Watkins claimed, "I thought that Barack Obama was not going to attack Senator McCain's wife." Watkins later stated, "This is John McCain's wife who owns the properties, and Barack Obama is attacking John McCain's wife." Additionally, in an August 21 blog post, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder uncritically reported the McCain campaign's claim that "Obama's charges 'attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits.' " But Obama's ad neither mentions nor refers to Cindy McCain or the McCains as a couple.

Further, neither Watkins nor Ambinder noted that while Cindy McCain "owns the homes," Sen. McCain has reportedly used the family's Sedona vacation home for fundraising. In a March 6 blog post, Politico's Jonathan Martin reported, "John McCain will spend this weekend playing host at his Sedona vacation home to a handful of his top donors, according to a source familiar with the trip."

From the August 21 edition of MSNBC's Verdict:

ABRAMS: Let's turn now to what has become a major gaffe by John McCain today during an interview with Politico.com. McCain's stumbled over a simple question about how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

[...]

ABRAMS: You're going to tell me that it is normal, that everyday Americans will just accept the fact that, you know, people don't know how many properties they own. It gets confusing, you lose track? Really?

WATKINS: No, I'm saying that somebody with a portfolio might, especially with his wife's portfolio, because, I mean, I thought that Barack Obama was not going to attack Senator McCain's wife. I mean, Senator McCain --

[crosstalk]

ROY SEKOFF (Huffington Post founding editor): But he couldn't even come close, Joe. I mean, he couldn't even come close. He had to consult his staff?

WATKINS: This is John McCain's wife who owns the properties -- this is John McCain's wife who owns the properties, and Barack Obama is attacking John McCain's wife. John McCain told people to lay off of Barack Obama's wife. I think that Barack Obama at the very least would do the same.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC, The Atlantic
Person
Joe Watkins, Marc Ambinder
Show/Publication
Verdict
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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