Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer on Monday repeatedly pressed Senator John McCain to attack Rush Limbaugh's assertion that he hopes Barack Obama's liberal policies fail. After playing a selectively edited clip that implied racial overtones and left out all context of what the radio host meant, Sawyer challenged: "Are you offended by what he said?"
A few seconds earlier, editing together two separate clips of Limbaugh, the GMA host played a misleading, racially-suggestive soundbite of the conservative star: "[From January 16 on radio] I don't need 400 words. I need four. I hope he fails. [From Fox News January 21 interview.] We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds. Because his father was black. Because this is the first black president. We've got to accept this." (More on the selective editing in a CNSNews.com post, "Rush Limbaugh Wants Obama to 'Fail' for Racial Reasons, ABC's Diane Sawyer Suggests," at: www.cnsnews.com )
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer then challenged the former GOP presidential nominee. "So, he says he hopes the Obama presidency fails. What do you say to Rush Limbaugh," she wondered. McCain refused to take the bait and simply asserted that all Americans hope the President can get the economy moving. Not getting the answer Sawyer was looking for, the journalist followed up: "One more try here. But, do you hope the President succeeds?" The GMA host closed out the line of questioning by pressing McCain as to whether he was "offended" by Limbaugh. The Arizona Senator also appeared on CBS's The Early Show and was asked no such question.
In contrast to the conservative radio host, Sawyer offered McCain just one question on Tom Daschle, Obama's Health and Human Services nominee. Daschle is under fire for owing three years and $140,000 of back taxes. (He's since paid them.) The ABC host simply queried: "The Senate is getting ready to consider in earnest the tax problems of former Senator Daschle who is going to be nominated for the vital issues of health care. Have his apologies satisfied you? Would you vote for him?" She certainly didn't wonder if McCain was offended by Daschle's failure to pay taxes. (Reporter Jake Tapper did cover this story in another segment, but this was the only question Sawyer offered on the subject.)
A transcript of the February 2 segment, which aired at 7:10am:
DIANE SAWYER: Just a few moments ago we were joined by a major Republican player in the stimulus package and, of course, in the loyal opposition, as he says, Senator John McCain of Arizona. And good morning, Senator McCain. Great to have you with us again. And, oh, it was close last night. It was so close.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: They came- yeah, I was very proud of them and very proud of the way they came back and you've got to hand it to a Pittsburgh team who pulled a rabbit out of the hat. But it was a great game and everything that everybody wanted except for victory for us Cardinals fans.
SAWYER: There's always another year. There will be another year. Well, I want to turn to the news of the day as we know. The Senate is getting ready to consider in earnest the tax problems of former Senator Daschle who is going to be nominated for the vital issues of health care. Have his apologies satisfied you? Would you vote for him?
MCCAIN: It hasn't, quote, satisfied me. I just think we need to find out more information, his relationship with Mr. Henry, what he did for the millions of dollars and why it is that he didn't report a great deal of income in taxes. But I'd like to wait and see for all the facts to come out before I make a decision. I think we'll know that in the next couple of days.
SAWYER: Turning on to the stimulus package, you have come out against the current form of the package and also have said you don't think the administration has been collaborative enough with the Republicans. Have you called the President to express to him what you think should be in that bill?
MCCAIN: Well, the President met with both House and Senate and that was- House and Senate Republicans and I think that was a very important gesture and very helpful in establishing the climate. But in the House and in the Senate, the Democrats really didn't negotiate at all with the Republicans. We have got to have a truly bipartisan approach. I think the President can and will lead in negotiations to eliminate so many billion, tens of billions of unnecessary and non-stimulative projects. They are- this is a spending bill. This is the spending projects that frankly the more liberal members of Congress who have wanted to spend for a long time. It doesn't cut payroll taxes. It doesn't cut business taxes. It doesn't have a provision for when we start reducing this deficit.
SAWYER: Another big issue in the news and out there on the internet, of course, is Rush Limbaugh who basically says that Republicans have got to take sides and here was the question that he posed. Here is the challenge he posed.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: [From radio] I don't need 400 words. I need four. I hope he fails. [From Fox News interview.] We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds. Because his father was black. Because this is the first black president. We've got to accept this.
SAWYER: So he says he hopes the Obama presidency fails. What do you say to Rush Limbaugh?
MCCAIN: I hope that all of us as Americans can succeed in getting a package that will get this economy going, put millions of people back into jobs again and that we can all work together to do so without betraying our fundamental principles of our Republican Party, which is lower taxes, spending under control, fiscal responsibility and a high regard for the taxpayers' dollars.
SAWYER: One more try here. But, do you hope the president succeeds?
MCCAIN: I hope we all succeed working together. That's what the American people want us to do and if the President gets the credit for it, fine. I'll give it to him. What I want to do is work to get this country back on its feet again. This is terrible, Diane. I don't have to tell you or anybody watching how tough this situation is. That's when we have to act together.
SAWYER: Are you offended by what he said?
MCCAIN: Oh, listen, I think the important thing for us to do right now is to sit down and work together. Mr. Limbaugh is entitled to his opinion. I respect it as I do many other commentators on the issues of the day.
SAWYER: And before we let you go, can't help but note it is great to have you back with us. I just wonder now looking back at the campaign, what's the last thought you had about the race for the presidency?
MCCAIN: That I was proud of the campaign we ran. I lost to a very good candidate and I wish him every success because we need leadership now that the American people can get behind and two wars, tough economy And I'm proud of the campaign we ran and I'm sure we made many mistakes, Diane. But I'm proud of the people that supported us and the way we conducted the campaign and I'm honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to compete for the presidency of the greatest nation in the world.
SAWYER: Thank you, Senator McCain. Come often.
From: A usually-daily report, edited by Brent H. Baker, CyberAlert is distributed by the Media Research Center, the leader since 1987 in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.