The New York Times's Kate Phillips filed a dutiful story on offensive comments against John McCain by a Senate Democrat who recently endorsed Barack Obama in Wednesday's "West Virginia Senator Apologizes for McCain Comments." Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia managed to smear both McCain and fighter pilots in general when he told his home state paper, The Charleston Gazette, on Monday that:
"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."
Phillips led off with Rockefeller's apology, not his offensive comments, then moved quickly on to his endorsement and praise of Obama.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV personally apologized to Senator John McCain of Arizona on Tuesday after remarking in an interview that Mr. McCain's years as a Navy fighter pilot would not have given him an understanding of everyday issues faced by Americans.
In an interview in his home state, West Virginia, on Monday, Mr. Rockefeller, a Democrat, told The Charleston Gazette that Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, could not relate to the everyday concerns of people on issues like health care.According to the article, Mr. Rockefeller said: "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues." On Tuesday, the McCain campaign demanded an apology, not just from Senator Rockefeller, but also from Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, because he has received the West Virginian's endorsement.
Beyond the obvious offensiveness, Phillips cited no one to question the dubious "facts" of Rockefeller's statement about laser-guided missiles. McCain, a Navy fighter pilot, was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese on October 26, 1967. According to this site, laser-guided missiles were not introduced until 1968, by the Air Force, not the Navy. Phillips also captured no outrage from retired military personnel who just might be offended by Rockefeller's cavalier assertion that they as a group don't "care about the lives of people" because they're dropping missiles from 35,000 feet and are "long gone before they hit." Give the Times some credit for covering the story, however; a Nexis search found nothing at all from the Washington Post or Los Angeles Times in Wednesday's edition.