Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

WaPo Smacks McCain Down on Landstuhl Troop Visit Story

Update: This story is getting Front Page treatment in the dead-tree edition tomorrow.

Finally some fact-checking from the traditional media.

McCain’s dishonest ad about Obama’s canceled visit to Landstuhl is probably the most dishonest of the election cycle so far (and we’re only six weeks in). The issues have been outlined, and admittedly the Obama campaign could have been clearer initially about what happened. But that isn’t any excuse for the attack campaign McCain has been executing on this issue.

Worse yet was the initial media reaction. After the ad went up, instead of fact checking the issue, the media was content to simply replay the ad, and essentially ask, “what do you think, Mr./Ms. Pundit?” This was even after the fact that is was clear that there wasn’t any significant money put into the Ad by, meaning it was for the cable pundits more than anything else.

Then, something happened. I don’t know if it was the media was shamed into actually doing their jobs, but they have suddenly started…doing their jobs. First was Andrea Mitchell with a well-deserved debunking:

Then, and Keith got into the act. Now, we have the Washington Post delivering a huge smackdown:

And the campaign released another statement this afternoon, this time from a former Sergeant Major who worked at the hospital, who said, “if Senator Obama isn’t comfortable meeting wounded American troops without his entourage, perhaps he does not have the experience necessary to serve as commander in chief.”

In fact, there’s no proof that Obama ever sought to bring the media or any entourage.

In essence, the McCain charge is this: Obama cares so little for the welfare of wounded American soldiers that he canceled the visit when he was informed he could not bring reporters and television cameras to document it.

But there is no evidence that Obama ever planned to bring anyone to the hospital other than a single military adviser, whose status as a campaign staffer sparked last-minute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event. The Obama campaign has cited those concerns as the reason for canceling Obama’s visit.

How about that! This is a righteous take down of McCain, putting the facts against McCain’s shameless and cynical strategy of another round of “Obama hates the troops.” WaPo delves into an EXTREMELY detailed account of what happened, and while lightly criticizing the Obama camp for some minor confusion in first explaining the issue, firmly comes down on the side of the fact that McCain’s account is just ridiculous.

After being asked repeatedly for the “reports” McCain was talking about on “Larry King Live,” McCain’s campaign staff provided three examples, none of which made the allegation that Obama had wanted to bring media to the hospital.

Instead, all three reports — from Fox News, The Washington Post, and MSNBC — mentioned that the Pentagon had informed Obama of the prohibition against media and campaign visits, leaving the readers and viewers to make the leap about Obama’s motive — as the McCain campaign clearly wanted.

Obama and his top aides have all denied that the campaign ever planned to take reporters or cameras or additional campaign staff to the hospital. “Absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” spokesman Tommy Vietor e-mailed just moments after McCain’s “Larry King” appearance.

That is supported by reporters who traveled with Obama.

Well done, Washington Post.


July 29, 2008 - Posted by | foreign policy, Media Strategy | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I imagine there comes a point where the smell becomes impossible to bear…I saw Andrea Mitchell’s smackdown and Senator Burr looked stunned. I think the media is beginning to realize that they are the ones that are being played for suckers with McCain’s barbecues and “straight talk express” bus and plane rides, and they’re beginning to tire of it. Even inside the beltway reporters don’t like looking like total idiots when McCain’s disingenuous comments (and I’m being kind here) and flip-flop statements show up on YouTube,
    and they’re beginning to finally do some fact checking of their own (amazing, I know).

    Comment by maximus | July 30, 2008 | Reply

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