NYT, Andrea Mitchell, Obama supporters/surrogates imply McCain “cheated” at Saddleback forum

Posted by: ST on August 18, 2008 at 8:44 am

Oh brother.  You knew as soon as McCain started answering questions so well at Saturday night’s faith forum at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church that The Usual Suspects were going to cry “McCain knew the questions in advance!”    And less than 24 hours after the forum was over, they did just that.

What happened is that some of McCain’s staff confirmed with certain mediots that McCain was in his motorcade on the way to the event from the hotel right as the questioning of Obama started, and arrived about half an hour into the questioning, where he was placed in that “Cone of Silence” Warren assured everyone he was in at the beginning of the broadcast.   Yesterday on Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell floated the Obama campaign’s complaint that McCain had essentially cheated.  It’s all over the leftosphere now that the reason their Golden Boy Obama didn’t do well is because he wasn’t given the questions in advance ‘like McCain was.’

The McCain campaign has written a letter to NBC protesting the accusation, and laying out in the letter a few facts that you won’t read much about in the MSM (emphasis added):

August 17, 2008
Mr. Steve Capus
President, NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Steve:

We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain.

Nowhere was this more evident than with NBC chief correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s comments on “Meet the Press” this morning. In analyzing last night’s presidential forum at Saddleback Church, Mitchell expressed the Obama campaign spin that John McCain could only have done so well last night because he “may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.” Here are Andrea Mitchell’s comments in full:

Mitchell: “The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/17/08)

Make no mistake: This is a serious charge. Andrea Mitchell is repeating, uncritically, a completely unsubstantiated Obama campaign claim that John McCain somehow cheated in last night’s forum at Saddleback Church. Instead of trying to substantiate this blatant falsehood in any way, Andrea Mitchell felt that she needed to repeat it on air to millions of “Meet the Press” viewers with no indication that 1.) There’s not one shred of evidence that it’s true; 2.) In his official correspondence to both campaigns, Pastor Rick Warren provided both candidates with information regarding the topic areas to be covered, which Barack Obama acknowledged during the forum when asked about Pastor Warren’s idea of an emergency plan for orphans and Obama said, “I cheated a little bit. I actually looked at this idea ahead of time, and I think it is a great idea;” 3.) John McCain actually requested that he and Barack Obama do the forum together on stage at the same time, making these kinds of after-the-fact complaints moot.

Indeed, instead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.

This is irresponsible journalism and sadly, indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle. Instead of examining the Obama campaign’s spin for truth before reporting it to more than 3 million NBC News viewers, Andrea Mitchell simply passed along Obama campaign conspiracy theories. The fact is that during Senator Obama’s segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed. In the forum, John McCain clearly demonstrated to the American people that he is prepared to be our next President…..

We are concerned that your News Division is following MSNBC’s lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race. We would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss our deep concerns about the news standards and level of objectivity at NBC.

Sincerely,

Rick Davis
Campaign Manager
John McCain 2008

CNN reports that the Obama campaign does not plan on pursuing the matter:

For their part, an Obama spokesperson told CNN’s Mike Roselli they are not pursuing whether McCain heard any of the other questions. They say they assuming McCain had the same information they did.

But that didn’t stop them from starting a whispering campaign about it over the weekend in order to get the  masses stirred up and to create the appearance of someone doing something wrong when in actuality nothing wrong happened.  Now we know the Obama campaign would never do something like that, would they? 

I find all this amusing, especially when you consider the complaints from Hillary Clinton during the primaries about how she was always asked questions first at the debates, implying that the reason that happened was because the moderators wanted help Obama who wasn’t as well-versed on the subject matter as she was.  Everybody laughed, but Politifact later pointed out that on the “first question of the debate” front, Hillary was right.  And now, the Obama campaign ‘privately’ expressed to a few reporters that they feel McCain was given advance notice of the questions, simply because he (Obama) did so badly on stage Saturday night whereas McCain kicked bootie (transcripts are here for anyone interested, and make sure to read Byron York’s take on the faith forum as well).   Well,  maybe if the Obama campaign would have taken the McCain campaign’s offer for both appear on stage at the same time, Obama would have been a little more ‘prepared’ – he could have just listened to McCain, and followed his lead.  Of course, when it came to repeating the POW stuff, Obama might have had a slight problem pulling it off.

Michael Goldfarb, who blogs for McCain, repeated an earlier challenge McCain has made to Obama on several occasions:

The facts are that Senator McCain was in a motorcade led by the United States Secret Service and held in a green room with no broadcast feed. If the Obama campaign really believes that Senator McCain had some unfair advantage, our offer of weekly town hall forums remains on the table–anyplace, anytime.

Here’s the translation, Obama campaign: Stop whining, and bring it.

Dan Riehl wonders (as does MM) about another implication in all this:

Flashback to the Presidential Debates 2004 via The Register: 

Was Bush packing Wi-Fi in TV debate?

Miraculous clarity arouses suspicion

It’s shameful and shamefully obvious what’s going on here, it actually somewhat began with Reagan. Call the Republican candidate dumb, or not sharp enough until it begins to sink in. Then, when they debunk that myth by besting the Democrat one on one – well, it had to have been cheating.

It’s a good thing Obama is intent on running such a noble campaign and not resorting to those nasty tricks we know only Republicans play.

Oh c’mon, Dan – we know that neither the Obama camapaign nor its surrogates would ever imply that McCain was too dumb/old to be president, right?

Releated: Via Ed Morrisssey: Team Obama acknowledges infanticide lie.

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13 Responses to “NYT, Andrea Mitchell, Obama supporters/surrogates imply McCain “cheated” at Saddleback forum”

Comments

  1. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    I only saw snippits of the forum, but it seems that the Messiah did really badly. Thus, we see His stooges in the MSM like Andrea Mitchell floating Kool-Aid-soaked theories like this one.

  2. DavidL says:

    The Messiah did badly because the Messiah is an idiot.

  3. Baklava says:

    I am GLAD to see John McCain’s letter to NBC.

    John McCain needs to take this strong approach often to the Obama camp (journalists included)

  4. Leslie says:

    Now kiddies . . .

    From Politico

    LINK

    Mitchell reported that some “Obama people” were suggesting “that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well prepared.”

    A McCain aide said that is not the case: “Senator McCain was in a motorcade led by the United States Secret Service and held in a green room with no broadcast feed.”

    Mitchell made the comment in the context of saying McCain did better, and that the Obama camp was defensive. In response to the campaign’s letter, she pointed out that journalists get criticism from both sides.

    “I wasn’t expressing an opinion,” Mitchell said. “I was reporting what they were saying.”

    Emphasis mine:

    Mitchell made the comment in the context of saying McCain did better, and that the Obama camp was defensive. In response to the campaign’s letter, she pointed out that journalists get criticism from both sides.

    “I wasn’t expressing an opinion” Mitchell said. “I was reporting what they were saying.”

    Sheesh! Both campaigns need to grow up.

    :-w

  5. MissJean says:

    Leslie, in J-school, we learned that you have to be very careful when reporting what other people are saying. Mitchell seems like a “kiddie” for complaining about criticism when she could have been more careful in the way she presented the UNNAMED Obama supporters’ comments. Also, she should have, at the very least, solicited a McCain campaign response before floating an unsupported theory by UNNAMED sources. She’s on Meet the Press, not The View.

    To everyone else: It disturbs me that people keep using “the Messiah” to describe Obama. There’s only one Messiah, and Obama ain’t Him. Would you please consider trying “the MESSiah”? Thank you. :)

  6. Lorica says:

    I think that McCain should flat out refuse to be on any NBC event, until Andrea apologizes for being an BO mouthpiece. If anyone needs to grow up it is these liberal elitists in the MSM who believe there are no consequences for saying stupid things. As far as we know, her unnamed source is some buffoon at the Daily Kos. It is idiotic to think you could get away with such supidity. As it stands right now, my vote is going to McCain, unless he pulls a “McCain” and tries to reach out to the middle with his Veep selection. McCain is middle enough, he doesn’t need any more help.

    As far as BO at the Faith Forum, it is beyond stupid to say your candidate was horrible, because the other guy cheated, when they were not competing with each other. Face it libs, your guy is a sheeple, he follows well but has less ability to think on his feet than President Bush. When he is off prompter he double talks the answer until he says absolutely nothing but empty rethoric. I can’t stand listening to this guy, and people who run around saying how eloquent he is, have never heard him off prompter. – Lorica

  7. Buckeye says:

    Once again Senator Hussein and his party whine and quibble rather than present facts to substantiate their allegations.

  8. Fred says:

    This is amazing, being as Obama actually said it outloud, ” I cheated” and looked up one of the answers to a question. This McCain smear is a cover up for Obama’s cheat.

  9. yo says:

    think back to when obama lied about taking public financing.

    do you see any difference in what the left is saying now vs what they said when obama lied?

    the obvious answer is that they didn’t seem to think lying was such a bad thing back then.

    now they think lying is a bad thing even when mccain didn’t lie.

  10. yo says:

    oh yeah, and another thing. mara, the liberal pundit on fox news sunday, said that obama needed to get to the vice pres thing quickly to change the subject from him getting destroyed at the debate.

    vice pres is imminent all over the blogosphere,and you can bet it will be all over the msm news tonight.

    Cover for obama. that’s the msm mantra.

  11. Steve Skubinna says:

    To the left, it’s inconceivable that McCain was better prepared, or is a more convincing speaker when off the cuff, ergo, his performance must be due to trickery.

    And now I am reminded of Wallace Shawn in the first half of The Princess Bride, whose response to every unanticpated event is “inconceivable!” To which Mandy Patinkin eventually replies:

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    And Leslie, Mitchell is using the same old dodge employed by journalists for years in order to inject their own opinion into a story: citing unspecified sources. “Some say…” is usually the way it goes.

  12. knickerbocker says:

    I’m surprised Andrea Mitchell showed so much restraint. Normally, I would’ve expected her to play the race card (“Why a green room and not a black room?”) AND to accuse McCain of eavesdropping. Now who’s playing the politics of personal destruction, Mrs. Mitchell-Greenspan?

  13. Leslie says:

    To Miss Jean:

    So you went to J. School? Great! I look forward to more comments from you.

    To Steve:

    Always good to hear from you.

    To both: I’m not sure what the problem is here. Is there something I’m not getting?

    Ms. Mitchell said that she thought McCain did better. (That was an opinion, of course, and remarkable to have been expressed on NBC.)

    I quote again:

    Mitchell made the comment in the context of saying McCain did better, and that the Obama camp was defensive. In response to the campaign’s letter, she pointed out that journalists get criticism from both sides.

    “I wasn’t expressing an opinion” Mitchell said. “I was reporting what they were saying.”

    Considering that everyone knows NBC is the Obama network, I find this remarkable more than somewhat.