Discussing Sen. John McCain's statement that "if the election were tomorrow ... Republicans would lose seats in both the House and the Senate," Wolf Blitzer asserted of McCain, "Should he be saying that right now? I know he's a straight-talker, but what do you think?" Blitzer has, on several previous occasions, pronounced McCain a straight-talker.
On the June 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer aired an audio clip of Sen. John McCain saying, "Right now, if the election were tomorrow, we would lose -- we Republicans would lose seats in both the House and the Senate. I mean, that's just a fact." Blitzer then said: "All right, that's straight talk from John McCain. If the election were right now, the Republicans would lose more seats in the House and Senate." Blitzer then asserted as fact that McCain is a "straight-talker," asking Republican strategist John Feehery, "Should he be saying that right now? I know he's a straight-talker, but what do you think?" Blitzer has referred to McCain as a "straight-talker" on several previous occasions, despite McCain's flip-flops and list of false assertions.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Blitzer has said that McCain "usually takes pride in" his "straight talk"; that "[t]here was some straight talk from the Straight Talk Express" in response to McCain's call for Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to resign; and that "[t]here was a lot of, I guess a lot of straight talk from John McCain today, but some are suggesting maybe it was a little too much straight talk," in response to McCain's statement that he would lose the election if he doesn't convince voters that the U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding -- even though McCain had already retracted his statement. Additionally, Blitzer once teased a report on Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson's statement that he "would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances" by claiming that "Senator John McCain likes straight talk. But you can bet he won't like what a leading Christian conservative is saying about him."
Further, Blitzer did not explain why McCain's assertion that Republicans would lose seats in Congress if the election were held today constituted "straight talk," given that other Republicans, including the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) have predicted losses for Republicans in Congress. The Wall Street Journal political blog Washington Wire reported in a June 12 post that during a meeting with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, NRSC chairman Sen. John Ensign (NV) "said his best-case scenario" would be a loss of three Republican Senate seats. The post quoted Ensign saying: "That would be a terrific night for us, absolutely ... I don't want to slip below the four-seat loss. That's kind of where we've set our absolute worst goal is to be down to 45 seats."
Also, in a May 14 memo to the Republican leadership, Rep. Tom Davis (VA), a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), asserted that "[t]he political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006 when we lost thirty seats (and our majority) and came within a couple of percentage points of losing another fifteen seats." Davis also predicted that "without some meaningful changes in direction, the GOP is heading for losses bordering on another twenty seats in the House and up to a half dozen Senate seats." Further, a June 26 Associated Press article quoted NRCC communication director Karen Hanretty saying in reaction to an "internal review" by House Republicans, "This is a challenging environment. ... Any Republican running for office has to run basically on an independent platform, localize the race and not take anything for granted. There are no safe Republican seats in this election."
From the June 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Here is a sound bite from John McCain speaking about the conservative brand right now, and I want to discuss this, so I'll play it.
McCAIN [audio clip]: Right now, if the election were tomorrow, we would lose -- we Republicans would lose seats in both the House and the Senate. I mean, that's just a fact.
BLITZER: All right, that's straight talk from John McCain. If the election were right now, the Republicans would lose more seats in the House and Senate. Should he be saying that right now? I know he's a straight-talker, but what do you think?
FEEHERY: Well, I mean, it's -- he is a straight-talker. And the fact is, we probably lose a couple seats in the House and a couple seats --
BLITZER: A couple, is that all?
FEEHERY: Well, you know, I'm not sure what the exact number will be. But I think it's straight talk.