MSNBC's Tamron Hall noted that Sen. John McCain was “ripping” Sen. Barack Obama “for not visiting wounded American troops” on his “global tour,” then aired a clip from an ad released by McCain's campaign which asserts that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops.” Hall did not note that, as NBC's Andrea Mitchell previously reported, Obama did in fact visit wounded troops on his trip while in Iraq, going to “a casualty unit in the Green Zone without photographers as part of the congressional delegation.”
On the July 28 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Tamron Hall stated, “Conventional wisdom would argue John McCain benefits by moving on and not talking about Obama's global tour, viewed by many as a success,” but added that “McCain is now taking aim at Obama's character and patriotism, also ripping him for not visiting wounded American troops.” Hall then aired a clip from an ad released by McCain's campaign that asserts that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops.” But contrary to Hall's assertion, while Obama did not go to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he did visit wounded troops on his trip while in Iraq, according to colleague MSNBC chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who reported during the July 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe that Obama “visited a casualty unit in the Green Zone without photographers as part of the congressional delegation.” Indeed, later on July 28, Mitchell confirmed her previous reporting, saying, “I can attest to the fact that he did visit troops in Iraq only four or five days earlier, that there was no notice of it, that I confirmed that it happened, but they had no video of any type and no reporters. And that he's been to Walter Reed. So let's at least get that off the table.”
Obama also reportedly made phone calls to wounded soldiers at Landstuhl, according to NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.
Further, Hall did not note that Obama reportedly has previously visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Nor did Hall note that the footage accompanying the charge that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops” shows Obama playing basketball with U.S. troops during his July 19 visit to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.
Hall also aired a clip of the McCain ad accusing Obama of not holding hearings on Afghanistan, without noting that McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has reportedly not attended a single Armed Services Committee hearing related to Afghanistan in 2007-08. Nor did Hall note, in uncritically airing the McCain ad's claim that Obama “voted against funding our troops,” that McCain himself voted against legislation funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or that, as Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote, that “Obama has frequently voted to finance the war but was one of 14 Senate Democrats to oppose a war-funding bill last year -- after Republicans removed troop withdrawal deadlines -- saying he did not want to be 'validating the same failed policy in Iraq.' ”
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the July 28 edition of MSNBC Live:
HALL: Well, conventional wisdom would argue John McCain would benefit by moving on and not talking about Obama's global tour, viewed by many as a success. But not so fast. McCain is now taking aim at Obama's character and patriotism, also ripping him for not visiting wounded American troops.
NARRATOR [video clip]: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops.
HALL: So the Obama campaign has responded to this ad by saying the trip was canceled out of concern it would be viewed as a political event.
From the July 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
MITCHELL: The background on the military flap is that they had clearly planned a trip to Rammstein, they were planning to visit the injured troops, and then the Pentagon explained they couldn't go as part of a political trip. The Obama campaign thought that they could go, leave the press corps on the tarmac, and then take off with military escort and make this one last visit, as he did, by the way, in Iraq. He visited a casualty unit in the Green Zone without photographers as part of the congressional delegation. But the military said that the rules are that he could only go as part of a previously arranged congressional delegation to Rammstein.
Clearly, people in the campaign are really angry. They had wanted this to be the final stop on the trip here in Germany, and to do it without the press corps, just to do it on his own. But the objections of the military were that he is now being staffed by campaign aides, not by his Senate staff, which -- who were the people who, of course, were with him when he went with [Sen. Chuck] Hagel [R-NE] and [Sen.] Jack Reed [D-RI] in Iraq. So, you know, the anger here is pretty intense at the Pentagon: They feel that the military are, you know, drawing some lines -- they're not saying this publicly, of course -- but drawing lines that they might not have drawn for other people. He was planning to just go by himself, not with cameras, not with any entourage, as he had done in Walter Reed in the past in Washington, as he did in Iraq, Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH (host): It's -- it's curious, if that's the case, why the campaign didn't make that announcement yesterday and allowed stories go like this. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of “he said, she said” in the days to come about this.
MITCHELL: Well, but they felt that they couldn't win. Yeah, they felt that they -- that they were in a, you know, no-win situation, that the Pentagon, perhaps, the military with cooperation from some Republican operatives -- I mean, that's the -- the sort of scuttlebutt, that there have been some foreign policy advisers of John McCain with connections in the Pentagon who've had something to do with this, but that is perhaps just the normal political paranoia of the season.
From the July 28 edition of MSNBC Live:
MITCHELL: Should you have guts-ed it out and gone anyway, given the fact that you were damned if you did and damned if you didn't?
GREG CRAIG (Obama senior foreign policy adviser): Well that's the -- there's -- obviously, Senator McCain had two press releases prepared, one -- if we had gone and seen the troops, he would've criticized us for politicizing and exploiting the troops in a political advantage. But we decided that that was something that we did not want to be criticized for, and so we didn't go, and now he's criticizing us for not going. There are about three or four factual misstatements --
MITCHELL: I can attest to the fact that he did visit troops in Iraq only four or five days earlier, that there was no notice of it, that I confirmed that it happened, but they had no video of any type and no reporters. And that he's been to Walter Reed. So let's at least get that off the table.