On Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Eric Shawn falsely claimed that, during his interview on CBS' Face the Nation, “General [Wesley] Clark said that Mr. [John] McCain does [sic] not serve in a wartime squadron.” In fact, after Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer stated that McCain “was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy,” Clark said, “But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Air -- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron,” a reference not to McCain's wartime service in Vietnam, but rather to his time as commanding officer after the war.
During the June 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, while discussing retired Gen. Wesley Clark's interview on the June 29 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, co-host Eric Shawn falsely claimed that “General Clark said that Mr. [John] McCain does [sic] not serve in a wartime squadron.” In fact, Clark did not claim that McCain had not served in a wartime squadron. Rather, during the interview, after host Bob Schieffer stated that McCain “was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy,” Clark said, “But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Air -- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron,” a reference not to McCain's wartime service in Vietnam, but rather to his time as commanding officer after the war.
Indeed, in an April 14 article, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCain was commander of “the Navy's largest aviation squadron, VA-174,” and that he “was promoted to executive officer in 1975 and took command for nearly 13 months, starting July 1, 1976.”
Further, Shawn quoted Clark's comment that, “I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” but like previous reports on Fox News and CNN, Shawn did not report or in any way indicate that, in making that comment, Clark was repeating Schieffer's words. Clark's assertion came in response to Schieffer's statement that, unlike McCain, Sen. Barack Obama has not “ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.”
Additionally, during the segment, neither Shawn nor co-host Heather Nauert noted that, during his Face the Nation interview, Clark also said of McCain, “I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world.”
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
NAUERT: But the second headline coming out of this -- and perhaps more important one for today -- is that he said, we should never devalue the service of anyone, especially Senator John McCain. And Eric is here. Eric has more on that angle -- Eric.
SHAWN: Yeah, you know, Heather, that was an interesting moment when he said that we should not devalue that service -- meaning the service of the military veterans, specifically John McCain -- and that such criticism for the sake of political supporters on both sides -- it should not be done.
Well, that's exactly what has happened, from one of his most prominent supporters, General Wesley Clark, who is the former NATO supreme commander and had been a presidential candidate at one time, and had supported Hillary Clinton -- now backs Obama.
Well, Mr. Clark, the former general, was questioning whether Senator McCain's qualifications in the military could serve him as commander in chief. General Clark said that Mr. McCain does not serve in a wartime squadron. That could come as some news to John McCain, because he was shot out of the sky in October 1967 in his A-4 Skyhawk over North Vietnam. He also said, quote, “I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification for president.”
Senator McCain is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, right now, and he reacted to those comments just a few moments ago.
McCAIN [video clip]: I think that -- that that kind of thing is unnecessary. I'm proud of my record of service, and I have plenty of friends and leaders who will attest to that, but the important thing is -- and if that's the kind of campaign that Senator Obama and his surrogates and his supporters want to gauge, I understand that, but it doesn't reduce the price of a gallon of gas by one penny. It doesn't achieve our energy independence. And it -- make it come any closer. It doesn't help an American stay in their home, who are in risk of losing it today. And it certainly doesn't do anything to address the challenges that Americans have in keeping their jobs, their homes, and supporting their families.
SHAWN: That's the type of comments, back-and-forth, that we'll hear in this campaign. Senator McCain, by the way, went on to serve in the Senate Arms Services Committee [sic] dealing with military issues -- Heather.
NAUERT: And we're going to hear a lot more about this, you can imagine over the next day or so.