In reporting that Sen. John McCain "committed to public financing" and "slammed Mr. [Barack] Obama for hedging on his pledge to accept public financing in the general election," the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler did not report that McCain is trying to opt out of the public financing system for his primary campaign, yet may not be able to do so because he obtained a loan in late 2007 that could have required him to remain an active candidate, whether or not he had any chance of winning, and apply for federal matching funds to repay the loan.
Various media figures and reports have helped perpetuate the myth of Sen. John McCain as a straight-talking maverick who is feared by lobbyists and representatives of special interests. But McCain's campaign reportedly has more current and former lobbyists on staff or as advisers and more current and former lobbyist fundraising bundlers than any other candidate.
A Wall Street Journal article by Jonathan Kaufman stated that Sen. John McCain's "war record and straight-talking approach could make him appealing to many working-class men," an assertion repeated by Jack Cafferty on The Situation Room. Kaufman and Cafferty join a long list of media outlets that have adopted McCain's self-characterization as a "straight-talker," despite repeated falsehoods by McCain, as well as his stark inconsistencies on numerous issues, including the Iraq war, immigration, and tax cuts.
The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com's The Trail both quoted Sen. John McCain's false assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan." McClatchy Newspapers -- apparently quoting from the prepared text of McCain's January 19 speech -- reported that McCain said Obama "once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan." In fact, in an August 2007 speech, Obama stated: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will."
A Wall Street Journal article about a hypothetical general election matchup between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama asserted that "Mr. McCain might enter a race versus Mr. Obama with an advantage among Hispanic voters." However, recent polls have found that significantly more Hispanics would vote for Obama than McCain in a head-to-head contest.
A Wall Street Journal article asserted that "[w]hile Sen. [John] McCain has shifted his emphasis, talking more now about 'securing the border first,' he remains committed to the broad strokes of his original approach [on immigration reform]." And the Washington Post editorial board wrote that McCain has made "what amounts to only a mild shift in emphasis in his longstanding position." However, McCain's current position -- that the borders must be secured before other reforms can be addressed -- is a reversal of his prior position; McCain previously argued that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. Moreover, he now says that he would not support his own legislation if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
In an email to readers encouraging recipients to read the National Journal article on the magazine's 2007 vote ratings, the National Journal Group wrote: "In 2004, President Bush invoked Senator John Kerry's liberal Vote Ratings score repeatedly on the campaign trail and at their head-to-head debates. We anticipate similar attention for our Vote Ratings across the 2008 election cycle." Numerous media did follow suit and tout the Journal's 2003 rating of Kerry. And once again, the media are giving the 2007 ratings the "similar attention" the National Journal Group anticipated -- despite the Journal's acknowledgment that the methodology it used to rate Kerry was flawed.
As purported evidence that Sen. John McCain "has the potential to swing critical independents," The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley A. Strassel wrote: "New Hampshire Independents got to choose their primary last month, and the early betting was that they'd flock to the Democrats and Mr. [Barack] Obama. In fact, they made up a greater share of the Republican primary vote than they did in 2000, drawn by Mr. McCain." However, according to exit polling, many more independents voted in the 2008 Democratic New Hampshire primary than Republican primary, many more independents voted for Obama than McCain, and independents represented a larger portion of Republican primary voters in 2000 than in 2008.
In their coverage of the January 30 Republican presidential debate, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, ABC, and National Public Radio all reported Sen. John McCain's criticism of Mitt Romney over negative campaign ads. However, none of those media outlets noted that McCain has aired numerous ads attacking Romney, despite having said that "negative campaigns don't work."
Fox News and The Wall Street Journal uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's claim that he originally voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts. And in its endorsement of McCain, The Arizona Republic wrote that McCain "opposed the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 because they arrived with no commensurate spending cuts." But in a floor statement during the Senate debate on the 2001 tax cut bill, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he stated, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
In his OpinionJournal.com column, former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont wrote that "[t]ax rate reductions increase tax revenues. This truth has been proved at both state and federal levels, including by President Bush's 2003 tax cuts on income, capital gains and dividends." However, several former and current Bush administration economists have stated that tax cuts, including those passed under Bush, produce a net decrease in revenue.
Advancing a common straw man promoted by the Bush administration and repeated by the media, a Wall Street Journal editorial falsely claimed that under the "preferred rules" for wiretapping purportedly favored by "most House Democrats," "a U.S. President couldn't even eavesdrop on a foreign-to-foreign terror call if by chance that call was routed through an American telephone switch," which "would amount to unilateral disarmament in the war on terror." The assertion is false on two counts.