Maddow Slams Romney for Same Ploy She Used Against McCain in 2008

Rachel Maddow to Mitt Romney: Do as I say, not as I've done too.

On her MSNBC show June 7, Maddow criticized the presumptive GOP nominee as unusually dishonest even by the low standards of national politics. (video, audio clips after page break).

"Mr. Romney gets caught saying things that are factually wrong," Maddow said. Not only that, "he does not mind. He doesn't fix it. He doesn't even try to worm out of it. He doesn't appear to feel any shame about it at all. And he's happy to keep telling the lie once he knows it is a lie. ... What is that? Because it is a very consistent thing now."

As an example, Maddow cited Romney's first campaign ad in which President Obama can be heard saying "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

Problem is, Maddow said, Obama was quoting John McCain when Obama said this, back in October 2008 when McCain was the GOP nominee. As evidence, Maddow showed footage of an Obama speech on Oct. 16, 2008, with Obama saying, "Senator McCain's campaign actually said and I quote -- if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." It wasn't just Obama saying the same words heard in the Romney ad, it appears this was when Obama said them.

How did Maddow describe this tactic? "Cutting that quote the way they did, and ascribing it to Barack Obama, when what Barack Obama was doing was quoting somebody else for the purpose of criticizing the statement, that is just a flat-out lie. That is not subtle. That is not the kind of thing you get away with even in politics."

It's also "the kind of thing" that Maddow did back when she was on the widely ignored and since-shuttered Air America Radio. Here she is on Oct. 14, 2008 attributing an inherently suspicious quote to McCain (audio) --

So far the only thing we know for sure that John McCain is planning for the debate tomorrow is something that he admitted in an interview on a St. Louis radio station, it was either today or yesterday, it was posted on politicalwire.com today. John McCain said, was asked about why his campaign is running on the Bill Ayers guilt-by-association issue with John McCain, to the point where Sarah Palin is talking about it in her appearances, they're running overt ads about it, there's all sorts of 527 activity around it, but he himself didn't bring it up when he had the opportunity to say it to Obama's face at the last debate. I mean, McCain has been bringing it up apropo of nothing. When asked about other things in interviews he brings up William Ayers. He's been bringing it up on the campaign trail himself, but to Obama's face he has yet to say it.

He's finally asked about that in an interview with a radio station in Missouri and he said, quote, I didn't have the guts, end quote, to talk about Ayers to Obama's face in the last presidential debate -- I didn't have the guts. And so either that means he's going to run for president on the campaign of, I'm gutless, or that means he's going to bring up Bill Ayers in the next debate.

But as I wrote at the time, Maddow's claim grossly distorts what McCain actually said. The evidence for this? The very source cited by Maddow -- politicalwire.com. Here's how it was reported there --

It appears Sen. John McCain will take Sen. Barack Obama up on his challenge.

In an interview on a St. Louis radio station, McCain said Obama's comments that "I didn't have the guts" to talk about William Ayers in the last presidential debate have "probably ensured" that the former 1960s radical will come up in Wednesday's debate.

In other words, McCain saying "I didn't have the guts" was him describing Obama's criticism of McCain for not raising Ayers in the previous debate -- not McCain's reason for deciding against this, as Maddow claimed.

Maddow played no audio of McCain's remarks, most likely since none was provided with the politicalwire story. The link from my 2008 post no longer connects to the politicalwire story cited by Maddow, nor was I able to retrieve it from the politicalwire archives for the 2008 campaign, which extend back only to March 2009.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts