On the June 30 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Monica Novotny falsely claimed that retired Gen. Wesley Clark “blasted [Sen. John] McCain's military record” during an appearance on the June 29 edition of CBS' Face the Nation. In fact, Clark did not “blast” McCain's military record. Rather, he praised McCain as “a hero” and stated, “I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war,” but argued that McCain's military record does not make him qualified to be president.
From Clark's June 29 interview on CBS' Face the Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER (host): With us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark. He was for Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Once Hillary was out of it, he announced that he was supporting Barack Obama -- and let's get right to it here, General. You heard what Senator [Joe] Lieberman [I-CT] said. He said that Barack Obama is simply more ready to be president than Barack Obama.
CLARK: Well, I think Barack -- I think Joe has it exactly backwards here. I think being president is about having good judgment. It's about the ability to communicate. As one of the great presidential historians, Richard Neustadt, said, “The greatest power of the presidency is the power to persuade.” And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment -- you look at his meteoric rise in politics, and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together, and who has good judgment in moving forward. And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about the old politics of left and right, and we need to pull together and move the country forward. And I think that's what Barack Obama will do for America.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you -- you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote -- and these are your words -- “untested and untried.” And I must say, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years -- how can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?
CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy-making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. 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. 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. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, “I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it” --
SCHIEFFER: Well --
CLARK: -- “publicly?” He hasn't made those calls, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Well -- well, General, maybe he --
CLARK: So --
SCHIEFFER: Could I just interrupt you? If --
SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean --
CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
CLARK: But Barack is not -- he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment -- and those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the June 30 edition of MSNBC Live:
NOVOTNY: Barack Obama's campaign is distancing itself today from comments made by one of its highest profile surrogates. Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation, retired General Wesley Clark, who is an MSNBC analyst, blasted McCain's military record and questioned his qualifications to be president.
CLARK [video clip]: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
NOVOTNY: Earlier today on Morning Joe, Obama's communications director said that no one should question the patriotism of either presidential candidate.