On MSNBC Live, Alex Witt uncritically repeated a statement by McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds defending a false statement by Sen. John McCain made the previous day during an interview with CBS, the video clip of which CBS edited to expunge the falsehood. But Witt did not note that Bounds inaccurately represented McCain's original statement or that McCain's statement was itself false.
MSNBC Live anchor Alex Witt uncritically repeated a July 23 statement made by McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds in response to criticism Sen. John McCain has received for a false statement he made during a July 22 interview on CBS, the video clip of which CBS edited to expunge the falsehood. In his statement defending McCain's comments from the previous day, Bounds misrepresented the controversy, falsely suggesting that McCain said something different from what he actually said, which itself was false. Witt neither noted that Bounds did not accurately represent McCain's original statement, nor that McCain's statement was false.
As Witt noted, Bounds wrote, “Senator McCain is correct. As General [David] Petraeus has made clear, the surge is the reason why the Anbar awakening was so successful in tearing up Al Qaeda.” Bounds' statement falsely suggested that what McCain had said was that the surge was responsible for the “success” of what McCain had referred to as the “Anbar awakening” -- an agreement by some tribal leaders in western Iraq to accept U.S. aid and cooperate with anti-Al Qaeda operations. In fact, McCain falsely claimed that the surge “began the Anbar awakening,” implying that the surge happened before the “Anbar awakening.” But the “awakening” reportedly began in September 2006, months before the surge was even announced.
Rather than note that McCain's original statement was false and that Bounds was purporting to defend a statement McCain did not make, Witt falsely suggested that the inaccuracy of McCain's original statement was in doubt, asserting, "[T]here's been some discrepancies as to what the timing was, what Senator McCain said regarding that."
From the noon ET hour of the July 23 edition of MSNBC Live:
WITT: An MSNBC “Campaign Alert” : And this is regarding John McCain's camp, which has issued a statement as a result of the flap, if you will, that's been made over the timing that he alluded to with regard to when the surge in Iraq began to take effect and take hold and help turn things around somewhat. There was a previous effort called the Anbar awakening that was noted to be chronologically prior to the official beginning of the U.S. Army surge there with the forces in Iraq, and there's been some discrepancies as to what the timing was, what Senator McCain said regarding that -- but let me give you right now what the McCain camp is saying and the quote is this:
“Senator McCain is correct. As General [David] Petraeus has made clear, the surge is the reason why the Anbar awakening was so successful in tearing up Al Qaeda.” Quote, “The surge strategy that was supported by John McCain and opposed by Barack Obama was responsible for the reduction in violence we have seen over the last year and a half. Democrats can debate whether the awakening would have survived without the surge, or whether the Shiite militias would have unilaterally disarmed without U.S. troops and our Iraqi allies disarming them by force, but that is nothing more than a transparent effort to minimize the role of our commanders and our troops in defeating the enemy, because to credit them would be to disparage the judgment of Barack Obama and praise the leadership of John McCain. If John -- Barack Obama had his way, the awakening would have been crushed at the hands of Al Qaeda and U.S. forces would have already left Iraq in defeat.”
We're giving that to Tucker Bounds, a spokesperson for the John McCain camp.