In recent days, Sean Hannity has repeatedly claimed that Mark McKinnon is "a pollster for the Democrats," a "Democratic pollster," or a "Democratic strategist." In fact, McKinnon has described himself as a "moderate Republican" and served as a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and as former President Bush's chief media adviser.
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During a February 3 interview with Sen. John McCain on Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity claimed that Mark McKinnon, chief media adviser to former President Bush and a former McCain chief media strategist, is "a pollster for the Democrats." Hannity continued: "[H]e's saying, and these are his words, 'This [economic recovery] bill is like a rotting corpse. Every day this thing sits in the sunlight, it starts to stink more.' " Neither Hannity nor McCain, who said he "agree[d]" with McKinnon, noted that McKinnon was a senior McCain aide during McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, through May 2008. During the February 4 edition of his program, Hannity similarly claimed that McKinnon is a "Democratic pollster" and on February 5, claimed that McKinnon is a "Democratic strategist," in both cases citing McKinnon's "rotting corpse" remark. In addition to his senior roles with Bush and the McCain campaign, McKinnon said in November 2008, "I consider myself a moderate Republican." Fox News itself has previously identified McKinnon as a former aide to Bush and McCain and a "Republican strategist."
During the November 5, 2008, edition of NPR's Day to Day, McKinnon said, "I consider myself a moderate Republican." From the interview:
MADELEINE BRAND (correspondent): Now, you, Mark McKinnon, you were once a Democrat --
BRAND: -- then you became a Republican.
McKINNON: Yeah. Yeah.
BRAND: Now, what are you today?
McKINNON: I -- you know, I consider myself a moderate Republican. I've -- you know -- evolved over time, like a lot of people do and, as I got -- grew older, grew a little more conservative. But, I -- you know, I'm very much a hyper centrist, I guess, is what you'd call me. So, you know, I've split my ticket over the years, but I lean moderately Republican.
Fox News itself has identified McKinnon as a former aide to Bush and McCain and a "Republican strategist." During the January 21 edition of Fox News' On the Record (retrieved from Nexis), host Greta Van Susteren introduced McKinnon as "a former media adviser to President Bush and to Senator McCain." While McKinnon spoke, on-screen text read, "Mark McKinnon -- Fmr Media Advisor to Pres Bush":
During the February 3, 2005, edition (retrieved from Nexis) of Fox News' The Big Story, then-host John Gibson introduced McKinnon by stating: "Republican Strategist Mark McKinnon was Chief Media Adviser for the Bush-Cheney campaign."
According to his corporate biography, McKinnon also worked for late Texas Gov. Ann Richards (D) and former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-TX).
Additionally, during the February 5 edition of his program, Hannity falsely claimed that "CBO [Congressional Budget Office], the gold standard in judging these [economic recovery] bills, has said it's not a stimulus bill. Most of this money is back-ended." In fact, as Media Matters for America documented, in analyzing the House version of the bill, H.R. 1, and the proposed Senate version, CBO stated that it expects the measures to "have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years." Additionally, as Media Matters documented, in his January 27 testimony before the House Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said that H.R. 1 would "provide massive fiscal stimulus that includes a combination of government spending increases and revenue reductions," and further stated: "In CBO's judgment, H.R. 1 would provide a substantial boost to economic activity over the next several years."
From the February 3 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
McCAIN: Thank you, Sean, for having me on.
HANNITY: Well, I can tell you right now, Mark McKinnon, a pollster for the Democrats -- and we've shown, now, polls, the more that the American people learn about this bill, the lower the support for this bill is -- but he's saying, and these are his words, "This bill is like a rotting corpse. Every day this thing sits in the sunlight, it starts to stink more."
You agree, I'm sure, with that sentiment, based on your alternative today?
McCAIN: I do agree with that. And the American people are beginning to figure it out. And we obviously have to, in my view, have to have tax cuts. We have to have some spending, including for our military, to reset, and because of the situation regarding our equipment and military construction.
From the February 4 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: And before that, everybody was supporting it. As Mark McKinnon, Democratic pollster said, "This bill is like a rotting corpse. Each day this thing sits in the sunlight, it stinks more."
From the February 5 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: All right. Now, here's the problem: Thirty-seven percent of the American people now support it, and it's like a rotting fish, according to Democratic strategist Mark McKinnon.
The CBO, the gold standard in judging these bills, has said it's not a stimulus bill. Most of this money is back-ended. Most of this is federal spending. This is huge pork barrel projects. How can you defend that when the average American has to pay for this garbage? There's so much lard and pork and mismanagement in here.