CNN's Michael Ware Denies Heckling John McCain

CNN correspondent Michael Ware appeared on Monday's "American Morning" and gave a live report from Baghdad on Sen. John McCain's visit to the Iraqi capital. Host Soledad O'Brien asked him during the segment if he had, as suggested in Internet accounts, heckled the presidential hopeful:

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. There was a report that said you were heckling and you were laughing during the senator's press conference. Is that true?

WARE: "Well, let's bear in mind that this is a report that was leaked by an unnamed official, of some kind, to a blog, to somewhere on the Internet. No one is going to put their name forward. We certainly haven't heard Senator McCain say anything about it, or any of his staff have come forward to say anything about it.

I did not heckle the senator. Indeed, I didn't say a word. I didn't even ask a question. In fact, when I raised my hand to ask a question, the press conference abruptly ended. So, what I would suggest is that anyone who has any queries about whether I heckled, watch the videotape of the press conference -- Soledad.

O'Brien's question refers to a Drudge Report flash in which Ware was accused of heckling the Arizona Senator during a news conference on Sunday. CNN aired the first 4 minutes or so of this press conference (Fox News and MSNBC didn't cover the press conference at all). There was no indication of heckling or laughing of any kind during CNN's broadcast.

Before O'Brien asked this question, Ware had criticized McCain and the congressional delegation in his report.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: There is the Republican congressional delegation here in Iraq. Essentially, they're here to view the impact of the surge, or the Baghdad security plan, and, essentially, to sell its merits.

To say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an American people desperate to hear of signs of progress. Unfortunately, they chose a very poor way of displaying those signs of change and the signs of progress.

The fact that Senator McCain and a delegation can drive from the airport and walk around parts of Baghdad wrapped in a heavy security envelope is not new. Generals and American representatives have been doing such things throughout the war. Indeed, it's the old reinvented, as new. And is in no way a sign of the real progress of the surge, which the senators should be talking about.

A transcript of the full segment:

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin for you this morning in the Middle East, where two prominent members of Congress are visiting there. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Beirut, Lebanon; she's planning a stop in Syria tomorrow. Senator John McCain is leading a Republican delegation in Iraq.

Senator McCain saying Americans aren't getting the full picture of what is going on in Iraq. He visited a Baghdad market yesterday. You can see from those shots there wearing a bulletproof vest, and surrounded by heavy security. Still, the senator says he sees improvement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Things are better, and there are encouraging signs. I've been here many times over the years and never have I been able to drive from the airport and never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: CNN's Michael Ware is following the delegation's movements in Baghdad for us this morning. 

MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There is the Republican congressional delegation here in Iraq. Essentially, they're here to view the impact of the surge, or the Baghdad security plan, and, essentially, to sell its merits.

To say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an American people desperate to hear of signs of progress. Unfortunately, they chose a very poor way of displaying those signs of change and the signs of progress.

The fact that Senator McCain and a delegation can drive from the airport and walk around parts of Baghdad wrapped in a heavy security envelope is not new. Generals and American representatives have been doing such things throughout the war. Indeed, it's the old reinvented, as new. And is in no way a sign of the real progress of the surge, which the senators should be talking about.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. There was a report that said you were heckling and you were laughing during the senator's press conference. Is that true?

 WARE: Well, let's bear in mind that this is a report that was leaked by an unnamed official, of some kind, to a blog, to somewhere on the Internet. No one is going to put their name forward. We certainly haven't heard Senator McCain say anything about it, or any of his staff have come forward to say anything about it.

I did not heckle the senator. Indeed, I didn't say a word. I didn't even ask a question. In fact, when I raised my hand to ask a question, the press conference abruptly ended. So, what I would suggest is that anyone who has any queries about whether I heckled, watch the videotape of the press conference -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad for us. Thank you, Michael.

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