MRC’s Worst of the Week: ABC Slams McCain, Ignores Obama’s Slandering of Rush

On Thursday’s Nightline, ABC co-anchor Terry Moran offered up a nearly seven-minute-long hit piece on “John McCain 2.0,” about how the GOP nominee has, according to Moran, dramatically changed his basic message, his campaign style, his policy positions and launched a dirty ad campaign.

“The old John McCain repeatedly promised voters a different kind of campaign — nobler, less nasty, better,” Moran argued. “That was then, this is now.” After running a clip from an ad criticizing Obama for voting in favor of sex education for kindergartners (“called, quote, ‘simply false’ by the non-partisan Annenberg Center’s,” Moran scolded), Nightline offered a condemnatory soundbite from ABC analyst Matthew Dowd: “I think the McCain campaign wants to have a campaign in the mud.”

Yet for all its indignation about McCain’s supposedly filthy tactics, neither Nightline nor any other ABC News program mentioned the new Spanish-language ad put out by the Obama campaign that blatantly distorted a two-year old comment from Rush Limbaugh as a way to incite racial hostility. Targeting “John McCain and his Republican friends” on the subject of immigration, Obama’s Spanish-speaking narrator began: “They want us to forget the insults we’ve put up with, the intolerance.” On the screen appeared the phrase “Cierra tu boca o lárgate!” — “Shut your mouth or get out!” — next to Limbaugh’s face and name.

It’s a false charge: Limbaugh never suggested illegal immigrants should shut their mouth or get out. Obama’s dirt-diggers surely know this because they found the phrase in a 2006 piece by Limbaugh describing Mexico’s laws against foreigners: “You don’t have the right to protest....You’re a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you’re going to jail....That’s how the Mexican government handles immigrants to their country. Yet Mexicans come here illegally and protest in our streets!” [Video of Rush reading “Limbaugh’s Laws.”]

ABC’s Moran knew all about Obama’s devious ad — his own colleague Jake Tapper detailed the falsehoods in the Obama ad and posted a “fact check” to his ABC “Political Punch” blog on Wednesday: “Tying Sen. McCain — especially on the issue of immigration reform — to Limbaugh is unfair. Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue....The [‘shut your mouth’] quote is totally unfair.” But Nightline ignored Tapper’s reporting of Obama’s slander, choosing instead to air a one-sided slam on McCain. So much for fairness.

Campaign Watch 2008 Presidential Double Standards ABC Nightline