While discussing John Hagee's apology for his controversial remarks concerning the Catholic Church, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer stated that Sen. John McCain “has pointed out” that Hagee was not his personal pastor for 20 years, “and says, 'Look, I'm not going to repudiate the endorsement of this man. I don't like the comments that he made, but I'll take his endorsement if he wants to give it.' ” However, Brewer did not mention that McCain has admitted that he sought Hagee's endorsement.
On the May 13 edition of MSNBC Live, while discussing televangelist John Hagee's apology for his controversial remarks concerning the Catholic Church, anchor Contessa Brewer stated: “I should just mention that Reverend Hagee is not [Sen.] John McCain's personal pastor for 20 years, something that McCain has pointed out, and says, 'Look, I'm not going to repudiate the endorsement of this man. I don't like the comments that he made, but I'll take his endorsement if he wants to give it.' ” But contrary to Brewer's paraphrase, McCain did not simply accept Hagee's endorsement, and the endorsement was not simply the result of Hagee's “want[ing] to give it.” Indeed, McCain has himself acknowledged soliciting the endorsement. During an April 20 interview on ABC's This Week, after McCain said he “strongly condemn[s]” “any comments that he [Hagee] made about the Catholic Church,” host George Stephanopoulos stated, “Yet you solicited and accepted his endorsement.” McCain replied: “Yes, indeed, I did.” Later, when asked if it was “a mistake to solicit and accept [Hagee's] endorsement,” McCain responded: “Oh, probably. Sure.” But when Stephanopoulos asked McCain, “So you no longer want his endorsement?” McCain replied: “I'm glad to have his endorsement.”
Earlier in the MSNBC Live segment, Brewer stated, "[Y]ou've got the DNC [Democratic National Committee] on the other side saying, 'OK, John McCain, maybe you should apologize for the rest of Reverend Hagee's comments." As Media Matters for America has noted, on the September 18, 2006, edition of NPR's Fresh Air, host Terry Gross asked Hagee if he believed that “all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews,” to which Hagee replied: “Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly.” Later in the program, after referring to reports of a gay pride parade scheduled in New Orleans for the day the hurricane hit the city, Hagee said: “I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” Hagee defended his comments regarding Hurricane Katrina on the April 22 edition of Dennis Prager's nationally syndicated radio show.
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the May 13 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: I want to get, first of all, before we get into the whole West Virginia thing, to this campaign alert that we've been telling folks about, John. We've got John McCain now saying that Reverend Hagee's apology to the Catholic Church is “helpful.” He says that it is in fact -- shows that he is reconciling with the Catholic Church. That being said, you've got the DNC on the other side saying, “OK, John McCain, maybe you should apologize for the rest of Reverend Hagee's comments.” How is this all going to play out for John McCain?
JOHN HARWOOD (CNBC chief Washington correspondent): I've got to tell you, Contessa, I think this whole issue of trying to tar candidates with statements of their associates, or people who have endorsed them, is going to wear thin with the electorate over time. People want change in this country.
And, you know, first, you have Jeremiah Wright, and Barack Obama got slapped around for a while over things that Jeremiah Wright said, not that Barack Obama said, but that Jeremiah Wright said. Then you had Democrats saying, “Oh, wait a minute. McCain's got one too. John Hagee insulted the Catholic Church.” And then they talk about things that Hagee said -- not things that John McCain said, things that Hagee said. I think people --
BREWER: But also --
HARWOOD: -- are going to see that as too far removed. They're going to get to know these nominees over time. They're going to engage many times in debate and town halls. I just don't think, in the long run, that's going to end up being persuasive with a lot of people.
BREWER: And also, I should just mention that Reverend Hagee is not John McCain's personal pastor for 20 years, something that McCain has pointed out, and says, “Look, I'm not going to repudiate the endorsement of this man. I don't like the comments that he made, but I'll take his endorsement if he wants to give it.” All right, let's get back to the Democratic primary right now.