One of the more outlandish claims John McCain routinely makes on the campaign trail is his boast that he called for Donald Rumsfeld’s ouster before he resigned. Part of the problem with the bogus claim is that major media personalities believe the claim, and keep passing it on to national audiences as if it were true.
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On the March 5 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked about Sen. John McCain: “[C]an he disassociate himself … distance himself from the president?” After CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said it would be “[t]otally impossible,” CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger responded: “[B]ut on the war, McCain has said over and over again, you know, ‘I would have fired [former Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld.’ ” When Toobin interrupted, asking: “Did he call for Rumsfeld to be fired?” Blitzer said “Yes” and Borger agreed, saying: “He did. He did.”
Despite Toobin’s further protestations, Borger said of McCain’s purported call for Rumsfeld to be fired: “[H]e called for him to be fired while — in the Senate,” “Yeah. Oh, absolutely,” “No, he did,” and “[H]e said I think Rumsfeld ought to be fired, you know, a long time ago. Yeah.”
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that Blitzer and Borger have heard McCain make the claim, and they assume he’s telling the truth. Of course, if Blitzer and Borger were better journalists, they’d actually check to see if McCain’s claim was accurate before repeating the lie for a national television audience, but my hunch is, they both think, “McCain wouldn’t just make something like that up. He keeps saying it, so it must be true.”
It’s part of the larger problem of McCain’s media adulation — there’s simply no skepticism. They accept his “straight-talking” persona, which they’ve helped manufacture, at face value.
With this in mind, it’s worth setting the record straight. Every time McCain claims credit for calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster, he’s not telling the truth.