Lou Dobbs, during an interview on Monday evening with James Rubin, challenged the Clinton campaign advisor over his accusation that John McCain was a "hypocrite" and a "flip-flopper" in terms of dealing with Hamas, noting that CNN’s own interview of McCain contradicted Rubin’s charge. Dobbs chastised, "I would not have taken it as far. I would not put it as forward-leaning as you on the issue."
Dobbs’ approach contrasts with CNN’s promotion coverage on Friday morning, when "American Morning" substitute host Kyra Phillips brought Rubin on board to attack McCain without any balance from any Republican or any suggestion that CNN’s own archives contradicted Rubin.
In addition to politely going after Rubin with regards to his charge of "hypocrisy," Dobbs became the first major CNN personality to read the April 13 statement of Hamas adviser Ahmed Yousef, which voiced the terror group’s endorsement of Barack Obama. In comparison to this, Wolf Blitzer, during an interview of Senator Barack Obama on May 8, read McCain’s remark that Obama was favored by Hamas, but didn’t mention Yousef’s statement, and let Obama portray McCain’s remark as a "smear."
The segment, which started 36 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour of Dobbs’ "Lou Dobbs Tonight" program, began with the CNN host asking Rubin to clarify what his accusation against McCain: "You kicked up a bit of a ruckus in suggesting that Senator McCain was being hypocritical in his statements when he talked with you when you were employed at that time with Sky News in 2006. You inferred from that interview, obviously, that what he was saying is that there should be direct engagement with Hamas, correct?"
After a few follow-up questions, Dobbs then played the key quote from the Rubin interview, followed by McCain’s answer in CNN’s interview from the time. After getting Rubin’s take on McCain’s answer from the CNN interview, Dobbs stated that his take on the answers "would differ" from Rubin’s:
DOBBS: I would not have taken it as far. I would not put it as forward-leaning as you on the issue. And in putting in balance that comment and the context of the time -- that is, Hamas having just won an election -- it seems to me that that's context that's critically important to understand what he was saying, and in the weeks that followed and Hamas' intransigence on the issues of terror and rejection of the right of Israel to exist seemed to not be in contravention at all with anything Senator McCain had said.
In response, Rubin answered, "Well see, here's the funny part. I wasn't saying that Senator McCain was offering direct talks. All I was pointing out, what I think is demonstrably true. He was remarkably open to Hamas.... So, to me, what was the hypocrisy was for two years later for him then to try to smear somebody and say, you are the favorite candidate of Hamas, I'd be their nightmare, was a far cry from what he was saying a couple of years earlier."
This answer from Rubin prompted Dobbs to read the Hamas endorsement of Obama as stated by Yousef: "As you interpret it, I can understand your reasoning. As I say, my interpretation was not that. Obviously, it was not the interpretation of the McCain campaign.... This from Hamas adviser Ahmed Yousef who said, ‘We like Obama. And we hope he will win the election.’ Isn't it reasonable to ask why in the world Hamas, or one of its principal spokesmen would want to interject itself into the presidential campaign?"
The Clinton adviser defended his take on the issue:
RUBIN: Sure, people can ask that. But, look, John McCain has been around a long time, and he knows when you say that your opponent is the preferred candidate of a terrorist group and I'm their nightmare, that he's trying to make a point.... To say that your opponent is a pal of terrorists, is a pretty nasty thing to say.... All I want out of this is for John McCain to think twice before he ever again says I'm their nightmare and you, Barack Obama, are their preferred candidate, and I suspect he will think twice about it.