On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain “suspend[ed] his campaign so he could be part of the negotiations” on economic recovery legislation. In fact, McCain campaign surrogates continued to appear on cable news networks throughout the day, the campaign's ads also aired, and The Huffington Post reported that it “called up 15 McCain-Palin and McCain Victory Committee headquarters in various battleground states. Not one said that it was temporarily halting operations because of the supposed 'suspension' in the campaign.”
During the September 25 edition of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric introduced her interview with Sen. John McCain by saying, “John McCain was also on Capitol Hill today, suspending his campaign so he could be part of the negotiations” on economic recovery legislation. In fact, as Media Matters for America and the blog Think Progress have noted, despite the purported suspension, McCain campaign surrogates -- including Nancy Pfotenhauer, Tucker Bounds, and Nicolle Wallace -- continued to appear on cable news networks throughout the day, attacking Sen. Barack Obama. McCain's television campaign ads also aired on network affiliates the same day, and according to reporter Sam Stein, The Huffington Post “called up 15 McCain-Palin and McCain Victory Committee headquarters in various battleground states. Not one said that it was temporarily halting operations because of the supposed 'suspension' in the campaign.”
By contrast to Couric, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams opened his interview with McCain by noting, "[Y]ou also said yesterday that you were suspending your campaign, yet it's been pointed out your surrogates were out all day doing campaign work against the Obama campaign, as they do each day."
From the September 25 broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
COURIC: Meanwhile, John McCain was also on Capitol Hill today, suspending his campaign so he could be part of the negotiations. We also spoke late this afternoon.
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COURIC: Senator McCain, what is the most serious concern that's been expressed about this bailout plan?
McCAIN: We're talking about the biggest event of this kind in history. There's concerns about homeownership, keeping people in their homes. There's some concerns about whether insurance should also be some kinds of options there. There's concerns about restrictions on CEO pay.
COURIC: Is one of the major sticking points, Senator, how you're going to pay for this thing, whether it's going to be through taxpayer dollars or private investors?
McCAIN: People realize in the Congress what's at stake here: people's jobs, small businesses, their homes. We have to explain that this affects Main Street, not just Wall Street.
COURIC: If you can't get members of your own party to fall in line, if you will, Senator McCain, will John McCain the maverick emerge? And will you buck members of your party?
McCAIN: Well, I'm sorry to -- I need not remind you, Katie, I have taken on members of my party and the leadership of my party on numerous occasions. But in this case, I am confident that we will reach a agreement that gets a majority of my colleagues on my side of the aisle, as well as a majority on the other side.
COURIC: Tomorrow, in Oxford, Mississippi, the first presidential debate is scheduled to take place. The commission is going forward. Will you be there or can you just not say at this point?
McCAIN: I understand how important this debate is, and I'm very hopeful, but I also have to put the country first.
COURIC: Senator John McCain. Senator, thank you for your time.
McCAIN: Thank you, Katie.
From the September 25 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
BOUNDS: As we work together to bring a deal about, that's John McCain coming here, showing leadership. So, I think that, you know, you're going to hear some back-and-forth, but ultimately, Democrats were trying to pivot and push this issue into John McCain's lap, and he rose to the occasion. He's taken on leadership, he's suspended the campaign, he's brought down the ads, and he's come to Washington to solve problems.
JON SCOTT (co-host): The joint statement from Barack Obama and Senator McCain seemed to suggest that they had an awful lot of agreement over the way this bill is progressing, this financial bailout bill. What are the senators' particular sticking points?
BOUNDS: Well, I think that it's reassuring that we see that the agreements are now talking about excluding those golden parachutes, which is something John McCain has talked about, protecting student loans, protecting home loans, and focusing on protecting Main Street.
These are the important inclusions that John McCain has been talking about since last Friday. He's mapped out a plan. He has firm things that he'd like to discuss. He'd like to leave an imprint on this negotiation. And I think it's important that the American taxpayer is protected this time. There's never been -- there hasn't been a leader in Washington as strong of a protector of the American taxpayer as John McCain, and I think that's why he's a valuable seat at this table.
SCOTT: Tucker, you've heard the criticism. While Senator McCain says it's time to put the nation's interests ahead of politics, some critics say pulling out of the debate or postponing the debate is nothing more than the ultimate political stunt. How do you answer?
BOUNDS: Well, you know, Jon, it's an interesting criticism because for -- since June, John McCain has been proposing these joint town hall meetings. He said any time, any place. He's probably said it over a hundred times since June that he would like to meet Barack Obama, any time, any place, take questions directly from voters and discuss the issues.
And the difference is, is John McCain is comfortable talking about his record of reform because he actually has one, where Barack Obama is trying to play politics, I think, in many regards in a lot of these different issues.
It's important to note that John McCain took on leadership, called for a meeting, “Let's bring everybody together, roll up our sleeves, tackle a real solution.” And I think that there's also some credit that should be given to Barack Obama. It's taken some leadership for him to come up here and be a part of these meetings. So let's put the partisanship aside, and let's start trying to solve a real problem here.
From the September 25 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:
WILLIAMS: Senator, as you may know, you took some heat today. One Democrat said you parachuted in, trying to ride to the rescue of this deal. And you also said yesterday that you were suspending your campaign, yet it's been pointed out your surrogates were out all day doing campaign work against the Obama campaign, as they do each day. Are you happy with how you've played this so far?