McClatchy uncritically reported McCain statement blaming Obama over bailout without noting contradiction

››› ››› LILY YAN

A McClatchy article stated that Sen. John McCain "appeared before the press in Iowa ... and said: 'Our leaders are expected to leave partisanship at the door and come to the table to solve our problems. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship in the process.' " But the article did not note that in the next sentence of the same speech, McCain contradicted himself on whether it was appropriate to affix blame, saying: "Now is not the time to fix the blame. It's time to fix the problem."

In a September 29 article, McClatchy Newspapers writers Margaret Talev and William Douglas reported that after the failure of the $700 billion bailout legislation in the House of Representatives, Sen. John McCain "appeared before the press in Iowa about 5 p.m. EDT and said: 'Our leaders are expected to leave partisanship at the door and come to the table to solve our problems. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship in the process.' " However, Talev and Douglas did not note that in the next sentence of the same speech, McCain contradicted himself on whether it was appropriate to affix blame, saying: "Now is not the time to fix the blame. It's time to fix the problem."

Later in the article, Talev and Douglas quoted McCain aide Douglas Holtz-Eakin blaming the failure of the bailout bill on Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), again without noting McCain's statement cautioning against "fix[ing] the blame":

After the failed vote Monday, McCain's senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin issued a statement renewing the attack and charging that Obama had "failed to lead." Holtz-Eakin asserted that that alleged failure, combined with a "strongly-worded partisan speech" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prior to the vote, sank the bailout.

This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country," Holtz-Eakin said. He didn't say how many of the 133 Republicans who voted against the bill were planning to support it until Pelosi spoke.

By contrast to Talev and Douglas, in a post on his Political Punch blog, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper stated: "In Des Moines, Iowa, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the following: 'Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to affix the blame. It's time to fix the problem.' Um ... isn't that affixing blame?"

Also, in reporting Holtz-Eakin's statement that Obama and Pelosi "sank the bailout," Talev and Douglas stated that Holtz-Eakin did not "say how many of the 133 Republicans who voted against the bill were planning to support it until Pelosi spoke." But they did not note that Fox News senior producer Chad Pergram reported nearly an hour before Pelosi's speech began that he was "hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram noted "leaves us very short there." Sixty-five Republicans and 140 Democrats ultimately voted for the bill -- 12 votes short of the number needed for passage. As Media Matters for America has documented, several congressional Republicans have disagreed with the assertion that Pelosi's speech caused Republicans to vote against it.

Moreover, Talev and Douglas also uncritically reported that McCain "told the crowd that he'd, 'Put my campaign on hold for a couple days last week to fight for a rescue plan that put you and your economic security first.' " As Media Matters has repeatedly documented, following McCain's announcement that he was going to suspend his campaign, McCain campaign ads continued to run; his advisers repeatedly attacked Obama on cable news networks; McCain gave interviews with the three broadcast networks the following day, and according to The Huffington Post, business continued as usual at 15 of McCain's swing-state campaign offices.

From the September 29 McClatchy Newspapers article:

John McCain blamed Barack Obama and the Democrats for Congress' failure to pass a $700 billion Wall Street bailout on Monday, while Obama avoided blame games and instead implored Americans to "stay calm."

McCain appeared before the press in Iowa about 5 p.m. EDT and said: "Our leaders are expected to leave partisanship at the door and come to the table to solve our problems. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship in the process."

In fact, Democrats in the House of Representatives mustered 140 votes for the compromise bailout plan drafted by lawmakers from both parties and the Bush administration, while Republicans delivered only 65 votes. Some 133 House Republicans opposed it, as did 95 Democrats.

[...]

For McCain, playing the blame game is a gamble. It could deflect attention from his own unsuccessful effort since last Thursday to rally House Republicans behind the bailout. It could backfire, however, if voters don't think his criticism of Obama is credible. It also could encourage Obama and his surrogates to paint McCain as temperamental and impulsive, a tactic they're weighing.

For Obama, the political risk lies in his continuing calculations over how strongly to defend himself against attacks versus refusing to take the bait. Many of his Democratic supporters worry that he's too aloof under fire sometimes, although his calm performance in the face of McCain's jabs during their first debate last week seemed to work in Obama's favor, as polls showed him pulling ahead.

A McCain campaign event earlier Monday in Columbus, Ohio, occurred before the House vote. There, he told the crowd that he'd, "Put my campaign on hold for a couple days last week to fight for a rescue plan that put you and your economic security first."

He accused Obama of sitting on the sidelines for not suspending his own campaign. "I will never, ever be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis," McCain said.

[...]

After the failed vote Monday, McCain's senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin issued a statement renewing the attack and charging that Obama had "failed to lead." Holtz-Eakin asserted that that alleged failure, combined with a "strongly-worded partisan speech" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prior to the vote, sank the bailout.

"This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country," Holtz-Eakin said. He didn't say how many of the 133 Republicans who voted against the bill were planning to support it until Pelosi spoke.

Posted In
Economy, Elections
Network/Outlet
McClatchy Newspapers
Person
Margaret Talev, William Douglas
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