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May 20, 2008

Volume 2, Number 3



On the May 16 American Morning, CNN permitted Clinton campaign advisor Jamie Rubin to slam Republican John McCain as a "flip-flopper" and a "hypocrite," all based on a tightly-edited 41-second video clip supplied by Rubin himself. After summarizing McCain's recent jabs at Democrat Barack Obama's Middle East policies, fill-in co-anchor Kyra Phillips touted: "But there's word this morning that McCain hasn't actually been consistent in his opposition to [the Palestinian terrorist group] Hamas." [Audio/video (1:56): Windows Media (7.14 MB) and MP3 Audio (539 kB)]

CNN then showed the edited clip of Rubin's January 28, 2006 SkyNews interview with McCain, in which he seemed to suggest dealing with Hamas without preconditions. In a six-minute interview with Phillips, Rubin blasted McCain's supposed change in positions as "the ultimate flip-flop in American politics" and "the height of hypocrisy." No Republican appeared to balance Rubin, and Phillips never indicated whether CNN even sought a response from McCain.

But CNN could easily have checked for themselves — the network interviewed McCain the exact same day he spoke to Rubin. At the time, CNN reporter Elaine Quijano said McCain was taking a hard line: "One prominent senator says it's an untenable position to have a government in the Middle East led by a group committed to the destruction of its neighbor, Israel." Then a clip of McCain: "Hopefully, that Hamas, now that they are going to govern, will be motivated to renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again....It's very, very important, though, that they renounce this commitment." [Audio/video (0:35): Windows Media (2.09 MB) and MP3 Audio (152 kB)]

Eleven hours later, CNN's Lou Dobbs discovered McCain had told Rubin pretty much the same thing ("The U.S. should take a step back and see what they do....Part of the relationship will be dictated by how Hamas acts, not how the U.S. acts."), but that portion was removed from the edited clip Rubin gave CNN that morning. "Well, that seems certainly to...substantiate precisely what Senator McCain is saying," Dobbs told reporter Dana Bash.

But for most of the day, CNN had trusted their partisan source and ignored their own tape. How convenient for Democrats — and disturbing for those hoping for fair and balanced campaign coverage this year.

For more, see the May 19 CyberAlert



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