POLITICS
06/25/2008 05:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Media Plays Enabler To McCain Foreign Policy Gaffes

John McCain raised serious doubts about his overall foreign policy faculties yesterday after he remarked that it was "common knowledge" that "that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran." "That's well known," McCain insisted. Well, apparently not, because mere moments later, Senator Joe Lieberman, who's been an otherwise silent partner on McCain's "This Is Not A Campaign Trip, Really, It Isn't" trip to Iraq, stepped forward to whisper a correction to McCain: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident with McCain - it's a pattern. ThinkProgress can provide the informed reader with a veritable child's garden of McCain's ignorance this morning. And it should be noted that Lieberman's corrective medicine didn't seem to cure: McCain made the same mistake on Hugh Hewitt's radio show last night, and, as Sam Stein reports, followed that up by repeating the error again today.

Naturally, one wonders if McCain has, as some have suggested, truly crossed the Commander-in-Chief threshold. Well, he may make it yet if the media, like a bridegroom, continues to help carry him over it. This is already beginning to happen. As MediaMatters noted, the AP and CNN both reported on the matter without any mention of McCain's mistake, and the Politico's Jonathan Martin ignored Lieberman's assistance, allowing McCain's camp to assert that "John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself." Martin went further in his post on the matter, straining awkwardly to find a way to hit at Barack Obama:

Or because McCain has made his expertise on foreign policy front and center in his campaign and is thus uniquely vulnerable when he commits such gaffes.

Sort of like, say, a candidate who portrays himself as post-racial only to attend a church where...

One has to credit the Washington Post - and their "The Trail" blog in particular, for getting the correct story out there and placing their informed analysis of McCain's mistake in proper context. The AP and CNN should have followed suit. This all goes back to an astute assertion made a couple of weeks ago by our own Rachel Sklar: "...it falls to Obama (and Clinton, who must be kicking herself today) to expose how flawed that judgment is. It also falls to the media, even though they love the old guy (er, the NYT excepted) They've been too quick to anoint him the foreign policy leader here, and too slow to really examine exactly where he's stood and what that's meant. It's the media that has allowed McCain to be the presumptive leader on foreign policy, and the media has framed this race in terms of Democrats having to challenge him on the war."