I imagine a day gone by where the news media reported facts, as best they knew them, turned a critical eye toward the statements of authorities, ferreting out the truth behind the rhetoric, and presenting it to its audience to enlighten them.
I say “imagine” because it’s probably the case that the news media has never really lived up to such lofty expectations. Nevertheless today the news media seem to be more like that annoying guy who likes to start fights between people by misrepresenting what they’ve said about one another.
Case in point: Retired General Wesley Clark’s recent comments about John McCain’s qualifications to be president. To hear the news channels tell it, Clark challenged McCain’s patriotism and attacked his military record.
As an aside: according to the media, Clark is a surrogate for the Obama campaign, which is also not true: Clark is an Obama supporter. There’s no such thing as an unofficial surrogate. Either the campaign is sending out Clark to stump for Obama or they are not- and they are not. If Face the Nation decides to invite Clark on the show to discuss the candidates and Clark expresses his preference for one over the other, this does not make him a surrogate.
Of course, Clark said no such thing. In fact, Clark went out of his way to express his admiration for McCain’s service. What Clark did say was that none of McCain’s experiences directly tied to qualifications to be the chief executive of the country. Bob Schieffer, the show host interviewing Clark, made the statement that Obama has never “ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.” Clark’s reply used that same phrase to make the point that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is not a qualification for president.
Guess what: he’s absolutely right.
McCain’s actions in the Vietnam war, including his imprisonment and undergoing torture, may certainly say a lot about the man’s integrity- especially his refusal to accept an early release (POWs are bound by honor and regulation to be released in the order they were captured). That may inform how you consider McCain’s character, but character is not a qualification for president. There are many people in the world who have maintained their dignity and honor in the face of terrible events- but this does not make them all qualified to be president.
Below is the full clip of Wesley Clark’s interview on Face the Nation.
There’s nothing more annoying than listening to a 72 year old man spin himself to be a victim from these comments (almost as bad as claiming that “losing his grip” is an ageist statement). I was around in 2000 and I remember the real attacks on McCain’s history in the form of whispering campaigns about his mental instability and black illegitimate child… and those came from his own beloved Republican base (the same rotten teet from which he now seems to suckle in the vain hope of gaining their support). Grow up, you old cunt!