CBS Resurrects Swift Boat Ad 'Smear' in Defense of Obama's Flip-Flop

The broadcast network evening newscasts stories Thursday night all described Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing as a “flip-flop,” a “reversal” and/or a “direct contradiction” of a pledge, but CBS's Dean Reynolds also relayed Obama's rationalization -- that “he's opting out of the system to have enough money to fight the unlimited spending and what he called the 'smears' from unregulated Republican-allied organizations” -- and then, with a 2004 anti-John Kerry ad clip on screen, forwarded his own example of a supposed past smear from the right: “Such as the Swift Boat group which attacked John Kerry in 2004.”

On FNC, however, reporter Carl Cameron pointed out what didn't fit the CBS prism (nor ABC's or NBC's) in which outside groups only unfairly attack liberal Democrats: “Right now it's Obama who's getting the most outside help. He met with AFL-CIO leaders today who pledged more than $50 million to defeat McCain and the anti-war group MoveOn.org is running this attack ad nationally.” Viewers then saw the MoveOn ad with a mother and a baby:
John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him.
From the Thursday, June 19 CBS Evening News:
DEAN REYNOLDS: Obama indicated he's opting out of the system to have enough money to fight the unlimited spending and what he called the 'smears' from unregulated Republican-allied organizations, such as the Swift Boat group which attacked John Kerry in 2004.

OBAMA, IN WEB VIDEO: We face opponents who have become masters at gaming this broken system.
From FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, anchored by Jim Angle:
CARL CAMERON: A flip-flop Obama tries to justify by arguing he'll need it to counter what he predicts will be millions in attack ads by independent GOP groups trying to help McCain.

OBAMA, IN WEB VIDEO: We've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.

CAMERON: But McCain's denounced the attack ads from outside groups and insisted they stop. Right now it's Obama who's getting the most outside help. He met with AFL-CIO leaders today who pledged more than $50 million to defeat McCain and the anti-war group MoveOn.org is running this attack ad nationally.

WOMAN IN MOVEON AD, HOLDING A BABY: John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him.
I'd also note that it would be illegal for McCain or his campaign staff to “coordinate” with a 527 group, which would include doing anything to stop them from exercising their free speech rights -- beyond, of course, McCain's legislative efforts to outlaw political speech.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center