News Agencies Slow to Cover Rockefeller Smear of McCain, Fighter Pilots

E-mail tipster Mike Huggins pointed out to NewsBusters that as of 4:30 p.m. EDT today, he found but one media mention of Obama backer Sen. Jay Rockefeller's (D-W.V.) smear of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) among the seven major online news sources he checked. Rockefeller's comment, which he now regrets, is also arguably a smear of U.S. military fighter pilots past and present.

From an April 8 AP wire story (emphasis mine):

"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they (the missiles) get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues," Rockefeller said.

Sounds kind of like Bill Maher, doesn't it?

Huggins noted that while he searched the Web sites for the Washington Post, L.A. Times, New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABCNews.com, and CBSNews.com, he found but one story on the incident and that on ABC's Web site.

I conducted my own search of Google News at 5:40 p.m. EDT and found the AP story on CBSNews.com cited above as well as a CNN story about the Obama campaign and Rockefeller apologizing for the controversial remark:

John McCain’s campaign said an apology from Barack Obama’s team for comments from West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who supports the Illinois senator’s presidential bid, were not enough, calling for a response from the candidate himself.

“It was a spokesperson. Just as with the situation with liberal attack artist Ed Schultz, Obama refused to reject the statements personally. It’s a trend that undermines Barack Obama’s credibility when he makes calls for a ‘new’ more ‘accountable’ debate,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

The Obama campaign and Rockefeller both apologized Tuesday afternoon for his comments about the presumptive Republican nominee’s war record in a West Virginia paper.

ABCNews.com's coverage consisted of a Political Punch blog entry by Jake Tapper, headlined blandly, "Surrogate Watch, Part 676":

Following Obama-backing Sen. Jay Rockefeller's impugning of Sen. John McCain's sensitivity because he killed Vietnamese from a distance -- "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues"

[end excerpt]

Hardly a media firestorm in the making, although Rockefeller's swipe was disrespectful not only of McCain, but of thousands of past and present U.S. military fighter pilots.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters