Despite evidence to the contrary, NY Times asserted as fact that McCain had “suspend[ed] his campaign”

In a September 26 article, the New York Times asserted as fact that Sen. John McCain “suspend[ed] his campaign,” but it did not mention that McCain campaign surrogates continued to attack Sen. Barack Obama on television, that McCain campaign ads continued to air on television, and that McCain campaign offices in various battleground states reportedly remained open.

In a September 26 front-page New York Times article, Adam Nagourney and Elisabeth Bumiller wrote: “In suspending his campaign, Mr. McCain declared that he would not attend the debate unless a deal was worked out.” In asserting as fact that Sen. John McCain had “suspend[ed] his campaign,” Nagourney and Bumiller did not mention the McCain campaign surrogates who continued to appear on television throughout the day on September 25 attacking Sen. Barack Obama, or the McCain campaign ads that continued to run on television. Nor did they give any indication that they had attempted to determine if the campaign had actually ceased state and local operations; according to reporter Sam Stein, The Huffington Post “called up 15 McCain-Palin and McCain Victory Committee headquarters in various battleground states. Not one said that it was temporarily halting operations because of the supposed 'suspension' in the campaign.”

In addition, several other media outlets uncritically reported that McCain announced he was “suspending his campaign” without noting facts that cast that in doubt:

  • In a September 26 Washington Post article, Anne E. Kornblut and Robert Barnes wrote:

The tumultuous events of the past few days suggest that McCain's ambivalence toward debating persists. The fate of the first presidential debate, scheduled for tonight in Oxford, Miss., has been up in the air since Wednesday, when McCain announced he would suspend his campaign to attend to the financial crisis -- and sought to delay the face-off.

  • In a September 26 Associated Press article, Jennifer Loven and Julie Hirschfeld Davis wrote:

McCain, who dramatically announced Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign to deal with the economic crisis, stayed silent for most of the session and spoke only briefly to voice general principles for a rescue plan.

  • In a September 26 article in the Chicago Tribune, Mark Silva and Naftali Bendavid wrote:

    The candidates were setting aside their campaigns and jetting to D.C. -- McCain had announced dramatically that he was “suspending” his and might stay away from Friday's candidate debate -- ostensibly because they were needed to help craft a bailout plan. Yet word of a tentative deal among legislative leaders was broadcast on cable news while Obama was still in flight.

    • In another September 26 article in the Chicago Tribune, James Oliphant wrote:

      Dodd and other Democrats blamed McCain, who vowed to suspend his campaign and skip Friday night's scheduled presidential debate until a bipartisan deal is reached. McCain spent much of the day talking on the Hill with Republicans, including some architects of the new proposal.

      By contrast, other articles in The Washington Post and from The Associated Press, as well as The Los Angeles Times, reported that McCain's campaign “continued”:

      • In a September 26 Washington Post article, Michael D. Shear and Jonathan Weisman wrote:

        Democrats immediately blamed McCain for disrupting the effort at compromise, saying his decision to suspend his campaign and return to Washington shifted the klieg lights of the White House contest to the tense and delicate congressional negotiations.


        Despite the GOP nominee's pledge to suspend electioneering, the presidential campaign continued yesterday.

        Democrats attacked the McCain campaign for declaring what they called a false truce, pointing to the television appearances of McCain campaign domestic policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, who has been attacking Obama as taking undue credit for crisis management and legislative deal-making.

        • In a September 25 AP article, Liz Sidoti wrote:

          As the day began, McCain portrayed his announced halt to campaign events, fundraising and advertising as an example of putting the country before politics. But in doing so he also hoped to get political credit for a decisive step on a national crisis as polls show him trailing Obama on the economy and slipping in the presidential race.

          And politics continued on all sides nonetheless.

          Despite McCain's stated hiatus, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, visited memorials in lower Manhattan to those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and McCain aides appeared on news programs. Chief strategist Steve Schmidt said all television advertising was “down.” But a McCain ad was later seen on local television in Las Vegas, and perhaps elsewhere.

          • In another September 25 article, the AP wrote:

            Republican presidential nominee John McCain vowed Wednesday to suspend his campaign to focus on the nation's financial crisis, but there were plenty of signs of activity Thursday -- including an apparently live fundraising link on the campaign's Web site.


            McCain appeared that evening in an interview on CBS' newscast, but canceled a planned appearance on David Letterman's “Late Show.” His vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, made a highly visible visit to ground zero in New York on Thursday morning. McCain spokeswoman Nicole Wallace appeared on NBC's “Today” show.


            E-mail messages continued to trickle out from the campaign, but at a far slower rate than normal. And the Huffington Post, a left-leaning Web site, said it had called 15 McCain campaign offices in battleground states, and none said it was suspending operations.

            • In a September 26 Los Angeles Times article, Noam N. Levey and Bob Drogin wrote:

              It also did not appear that McCain had fully suspended his campaign, as he had said Wednesday that he would until a solution to the economic crisis was reached. His Republican running mate, Sarah Palin, remained on the trail Thursday, his ads were still on the air, his campaign offices remained open, and fundraising continued.


              Elsewhere, there were other signs that the presidential campaign was very much in swing.

              Trailed by camera crews and reporters, Palin visited the former World Trade Center site in Manhattan to tour a museum built as a tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

              McCain's campaign website still allowed supporters to volunteer or contribute. His national headquarters in Arlington, Va., as well as local, state and regional field offices remained open. And on Capitol Hill, McCain was joined by his senior campaign team, including strategist Steve Schmidt, campaign manager Rick Davis, aide Mark Salter and policy advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

                • In a September 26 AP article, Steven R. Hurst wrote:

                McCain's call to postpone the debate was his latest surprise move aimed at shaking up a race in which Obama would seem to have an inherent advantage, given the economic turmoil and the unpopular presidency of Republican George W. Bush.

                The four-term Arizona senator did not, in fact, truly suspend campaign activities nor, Democrats claim, did he carry through on a promise to halt TV ads attacking Democratic opponent Barack Obama. McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, paid a highly visible visit to memorials in lower Manhattan to those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.