Best of 2009: McCain Double-Flip-Flops on FactCheck.org
All day, we’re re-running our favorite blog posts of the last year. This post was originally published on Dec. 2, 2009.
One day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hammered him for “flip-flopping” on Medicare cuts, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) fired back this morning on the Senate floor (starting at 0:16 in this clip). McCain cited a FactCheck.org analysis from the 2008 presidential campaign that debunked a claim in one of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s ads that McCain had proposed a cut to Medicare benefits.
The question of whether McCain did or did not flip-flop on Medicare cuts notwithstanding, McCain’s citation of FactCheck.org — the reputable fact-checking Website operated by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center — is itself a pretty dramatic flip-flop.
In the heat of the campaign last year, I asked McCain if he had any comment on a series of FactCheck.org analyses that found that many of his campaign advertisements contained false or misleading information. McCain responded by chuckling and giving a rather dismissive answer that failed to address the heart of the question.
Me: Senator, FactCheck.org, the nonpartisan fact-checking Website, has cited nine — eight or nine — of your recent ads as containing false or misleading information. I was wondering how you would respond to this, and how do you reconcile it with your pledge to run an honorable campaign?
McCain: [Chuckling] I don’t respond to Websites that I have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m proud of our campaign. We have been fair. We have been balanced, and we have clearly pointed out the differences between myself and Sen. Obama.
So in August of last year, McCain had a low opinion of FactCheck.org when it was criticizing the factual basis of his campaign ads. But today, McCain requested that one of the site’s reports that supported him be entered into the Congressional Record.
And what’s more, if you want to be absolutely technical about it, McCain’s comments on the Senate floor today actually represent a rare (and risky!) double-flip. As I reported last year, even before McCain pleaded ignorance on FactCheck.org’s credibility, his campaign put out a press release using one of the organization’s analyses to defend the Arizona senator from an AFL-CIO attack ad about his support of veterans’ health benefits. That press release mysteriously vanished from the campaign Website sometime after I wrote about it.
It would seem that, just as he did last year during the presidential race, McCain is still trying to have it both ways.