CBS’s Couric: Clinton & Obama Lies Same as McCain Iraq Statement

On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric did a segment on why politicians lie and suggested completely false statements made by Hillary Clinton, about sniper fire in Bosnia, and Barack Obama, about how his parents met, were really no different from this statement from John McCain: "It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq. And, my friends, they wouldn't... if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country." Couric prefaced the quote by claiming: "John McCain's rhetoric doesn't always pass the smell test, either."

The McCain quote was followed by liberal Time Magazine columnist, Joe Klein, explaining that: "John McCain doesn't need to exaggerate his biography. It's a spectacular biography. But he does exaggerate the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a small Sunni group in a majority Shiite country. He says they could take over if we leave. That's an exaggeration." Just because Klein disagrees with McCain’s argument does not make it an exaggeration. Also, Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party was Sunni.

Later, Couric played a clip of Al Gore famously claiming that he helped to invent the internet and she followed by saying: "Gore's statement played into the Republican strategy in 2000 that he wasn't trustworthy. While Democrats argued Bush wasn't up to the job." Democratic Party strategist, Mike Feldman, went on to claim that this gave Bush an unfair advantage: "Roger Simon in his book about the campaign called it "Dumbo versus Pinocchio." When President Bush would make a mis-statement it was often seen as benign, a simple mistake. When Vice President Gore would make a mis-statement it was often seen as malicious or intentionally misleading."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

6:30PM TEASER:

KATIE COURIC: Why do politicians exaggerate when it's so easy to get busted?

AL GORE: I took the initiative in creating the internet.

6:39PM TEASER:

COURIC: But up next, tall tales on the campaign trail. The truth takes a beating.

6:42PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: Turning again now to the presidential campaign, where candidates sometimes play fast and loose with the facts. These days, every single thing they say is analyzed and dissected. So when stories fall apart, you can't help but wonder: Why do they do it? They were the shots heard round the world.

HILLARY CLINTON: I remember landing under sniper fire.

COURIC: But as everyone now knows, those shots didn't exist. These shots do. Even before the Bosnia story, Hillary Clinton's reputation had taken some hits. In a recent poll, 46% of Americans said Clinton is phony. Only 48% said she's honest. What do you think leads a candidate to exaggerate or be hyperbolic about his or her record?

NICOLLE WALLACE: You take the pressure of a press corp that's on top of them all day every day and the competitive pressure of being head-to-head with an opponent now for months on end and there's extraordinary pressure to come up with new proof points to prove her narrative and her reason for being the best candidate to carry the Democratic mantle.

COURIC: But on the campaign trail, stretching the truth can be as common as kissing babies. And Barack Obama has gilded the lily as well. Obama claimed it was the Kennedy family that helped finance his father's journey from Kenya to America.

BARACK OBAMA: So it is partly because of their generosity that my father came to this country.

COURIC: Except that wasn't true. Neither was another story about the 1965 march on Selma inspiring his parents to fall in love. Trouble is, Obama was born four years before that. John McCain's rhetoric doesn't always pass the smell test, either.

JOHN MCCAIN: It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq. And, my friends, they wouldn't... if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country.

JOE KLEIN: John McCain doesn't need to exaggerate his biography. It's a spectacular biography. But he does exaggerate the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a small Sunni group in a majority Shiite country. He says they could take over if we leave. That's an exaggeration.

COURIC: But in this day in age, candidates embellish at their own peril.

MIKE FELDMAN: We're operating in a 24 hour a day, seven day a week news environment now. There really are no off camera moments.

OBAMA: Guys, guys...

COURIC: It may be harder today, but it's hardly new.

STEVE KROFT: Who is Jennifer Flowers? You know her?

CLINTON: Oh yes.

KROFT: How do you know her? How would you describe your relationship?

BILL CLINTON: Very limited.

AL GORE: I took the initiative in creating the internet.

COURIC: Gore's statement played into the Republican strategy in 2000 that he wasn't trustworthy. While Democrats argued Bush wasn't up to the job.

FELDMAN: Roger Simon in his book about the campaign called it "Dumbo versus Pinocchio." When President Bush would make a mis-statement it was often seen as benign, a simple mistake. When Vice President Gore would make a mis-statement it was often seen as malicious or intentionally misleading.

COURIC: In this campaign cycle, Hillary Clinton runs the risk of being portrayed the same way.

WALLACE: Her vulnerability among Democrats is that she will say or do anything and that there's a willingness on her part to stretch or strain the truth.

COURIC: That's not Obama's weakness, but something else could be.

JOE TRIPPI: People view Obama a as essentially honest so they give him the benefit of the doubt. But questions about experience and readiness for office, those are ones where if he stumbles it could really harm him.

COURIC: So how will this all shake out? A new poll out today shows that in the upcoming primary state of Pennsylvania, trustworthiness is the second-most important quality voters look for in a candidate, second only to strong leader.

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