Scarborough did not challenge McCain's false claim that Eisenhower wrote a "letter of resignation" before D-Day

Scarborough did not challenge McCain's false claim that Eisenhower wrote a "letter of resignation" before D-Day

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

On Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough did not challenge Sen. John McCain's false assertion that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote "a letter of resignation from the Army" in case the D-Day invasion failed, a claim that McCain also made during the September 26 presidential debate.

During a live satellite interview with Sen. John McCain on the October 2 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough did not challenge McCain's false assertion that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote "a letter of resignation from the Army" in case the D-Day invasion failed. The claim, which McCain also made during the September 26 presidential debate, was debunked by PolitiFact.com and an ABCNews.com Political Radar blog post, concluding that, while Eisenhower accepted responsibility in the letter, he did not mention resignation.

In his Morning Joe appearance, clipped by ThinkProgress.com blogger Matthew Yglesias, McCain referenced the Eisenhower letters -- one accepting responsibility for failure, the other congratulating the troops for success -- in defense of his demand that Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox resign. At no point did Scarborough question McCain's version of the story.

Following the September 26 presidential debate, PolitiFact determined that the text of the note to which McCain "was almost certainly referring" was "not a letter of resignation":

McCain went on to link Eisenhower and his letter to McCain's repeated calls in recent days that Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox resign for his role in the financial crisis.

McCain was almost certainly referring to this note, which Eisenhower, then the U.S. Army general commanding the Normandy assault, prepared and stuck in his wallet on June 5, 1944, the day before the invasion in case the mission failed.

It says: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

A noble sentiment -- but not a letter of resignation.

"That must be what McCain is referencing," said David Fitzpatrick, a military historian at the University of Michigan. "I never heard that Eisenhower had prepared a letter of resignation. That would be incorrect."

The invasion was a success and Eisenhower did not have to use the note.

McCain ought not use it either -- at least not as an example of prewritten resignation letter. Though Eisenhower did intend to take responsibility for the failure, that's quite different from preparing to resign his generalship. We find this anecdote to be False.

Political Radar also pointed out that "[a]ccording to the National Archives, late on the afternoon of June 5, 1944, Eisenhower scribbled a note intended for release accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and taking full blame in the event the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast failed. In the letter, Eisenhower takes responsibility but makes no mention of resignation."

While Scarborough failed to challenge McCain's falsehood, MSNBC reporters, hosts and guests have pointed out at least three times during the previous week Sen. Joe Biden's misstatement during a September 22 interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, when he said, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.' "

  • During the 9 a.m. ET hour of the September 29 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC News correspondent Ron Allen said of Biden: "[H]e made a comment about FDR and the Depression when FDR wasn't president then and appearing on TV when TV didn't exist. So, yes, this is the narrative that Joe Biden runs against -- 'Will he make more gaffes?' "
  • During the 5 p.m. ET hour of the September 28 edition of MSNBC Live, Republican strategist Brad Blakeman said of Biden: "Here's a guy who thinks that FDR was president during the Great Depression. Here's a guy who thought there was television ahead of its time in the '20s." Host David Shuster did not point out that Roosevelt in fact was president during the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930s, with Roosevelt taking office in 1933 and serving until his death in 1945.
  • During the 10 a.m. ET hour of the September 28 edition of MSNBC Live, Republican strategist Ron Christie said, "Senator Biden the other week said that during the financial crisis that President FDR took to the airwaves in 1929 to try to calm the markets. Well, the fact of the matter was he didn't have television in 1929, and Herbert Hoover was the president of the United States. But people don't make that of Mr. Biden." Host Alex Witt went on to say, "Yeah, that was definitely an 'ouch.' "

From the September 26 presidential debate:

McCAIN: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.

But there's also the issue of responsibility. You've mentioned President Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

Somehow we've lost that accountability. I've been heavily criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We've got to start also holding people accountable, and we've got to reward people who succeed.

But somehow in Washington today -- and I'm afraid on Wall Street -- greed is rewarded, excess is rewarded, and corruption -- or certainly failure to carry out our responsibility is rewarded.

As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the September 29 edition of MSNBC Live:

ALLEN: He was against the AIG bailout before he was for it, he made a comment about FDR and the Depression when FDR wasn't president then and appearing on TV when TV didn't exist. So, yes, this is the narrative that Joe Biden runs against -- "Will he make more gaffes?" And I'm sure that he's going to be able to just sort of focus -- they're telling him "be brief, to be to the point." He did pretty well during the Democratic debates. And the other thing is -- the other issue is, of course -- debating a woman, Sarah Palin. What's that going to be like? And, so, Biden's answer is, "I debate strong, smart women in the Senate all the time. What's the big deal?" But, of course, the perception of how he comes off against her -- is he condescending, does he talk down to her, especially because he has so much more experience -- that's gonna be something to watch as well.

TAMRON HALL [anchor]: You know, also someone was pointing out his experience -- he has to temper it where it does not come off as -- some criticized Al Gore, "the know-it-all" -- you know, "She doesn't know a lot, she doesn't have a lot of experience, and here I am with all the answers."

From the 5 p.m. ET hour of the September 28 edition of MSNBC Live:

SHUSTER: We're moving ahead, of course, and moving focusing this Thursday on the vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. And I gotta ask you, Brad, I mean, there's been so much of a buzz in Washington about Sarah Palin's performance in these sit-down interviews -- she hasn't really been asked some of the difficult, detailed questions about this very bailout package. Are you satisfied with where Sarah Palin is heading into Thursday's debate?

BLAKEMAN: I am satisfied. I think she'll be well-prepared, and I think the human gaffe machine, Biden, should offer some very interesting insights into his perspective on history. Here's a guy who thinks that FDR was president during the Great Depression. Here's a guy who thought there was television ahead of its time in the '20s. This guy -- it should be very entertaining, to say the least. But Sarah Palin is more qualified to be vice president than Barack Obama is to be president.

SHUSTER: How can you say that, when Barack Obama has been through 20-some debates, he's run an organization that's raised hundreds of millions of dollars, he's had to run this organization for a year-and-a-half? Do you really believe that --

BLAKEMAN: Here's how I can say that. Sarah Palin --

CHRIS KOFINIS [Democratic strategist]: I think, Brad -- I think Brad just wrote --

BLAKEMAN: -- Sarah Palin has run a state -- billion and billions of dollars. Sarah Palin has been a mayor. Barack Obama has never worked in the private sector. He's worked as a state senator --

SHUSTER: That's not true. He worked at a law firm.

KOFINIS: Brad, Brad --

BLAKEMAN: -- we're electing a state senator as president.

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the September 28 edition of MSNBC Live:

WITT: But, you know, Ron, you gotta at this point forget the 37 million who watched her. Are you at all concerned about what's been described as some rough media interviews this last week has colored people's opinions of her?

CHRISTIE: No, Alex, I'm not. I think that everybody going through the electoral process, you hit a patch here and there. What I find more astounding is that Senator Biden the other week said that during the financial crisis that President FDR took to the airwaves in 1929 to try to calm the markets. Well, the fact of the matter was he didn't have television in 1929, and Herbert Hoover was the president of the United States. But people don't make that of Mr. Biden. Everyone seems to want to be out to get Governor Palin. I think there's a certain degree of unfairness in the coverage, and I think she's ready for Thursday.

WITT: OK. So, yeah, that was definitely an 'ouch.' So, Chris [Kofinis], keeping in mind that one, what does Joe Biden need to do, other than make mistakes like that, to reach all those undecideds out there?

From the October 2 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

JIM CRAMER: You've called for the resignation or firing of Christopher Cox, the SEC chairman. He has been quite inept and has hurt Wall Street. Would you go as far as to that say perhaps [Federal Reserve chairman] Ben Bernanke should be replaced, given the fact he was worried about inflation when we have a deflationary spiral like 1932 happening?

McCAIN: I'm not overall pleased with his performance, but I think it's a little bit different from the person -- the individual specifically assigned to regulate. And Chris Cox is a fine and honorable man, don't get me wrong -- but when the captain is asleep in the cabin and the ship runs aground, it's the captain that's still responsible. Accountability. Dwight David Eisenhower, the night before the invasion of Normandy, wrote out two letters -- one praising the men and women for their success who made that that incredible invasion possible, and the other a letter of resignation from the Army in case it had failed, taking full responsibility. We need more leaders like Dwight David Eisenhower.

SCARBOROUGH: Senator McCain, I had a friend yesterday email me a 2003 New York Times article where the Bush administration and some leaders on Capitol Hill were expressing concern already about Fannie and Freddie, said we needed to take more control of it. Barney Frank was very critical, saying that nothing was wrong with Fannie and Freddie. Other Democrats said that that was the wrong step to take. Let me ask you, where were you in 2003, when the White House and Treasury officials started warning -- that's five years ago -- started warning about problems that were inside of Fannie and Freddie?

McCAIN: I was -- I was partially engaged. Let me say that I also had those same concerns.

Posted In
Elections
Person
Joe Scarborough, Alex Witt, Ron Allen
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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