CNN: Where No Talking Point Goes Challenged

Just in case Rudy Giuliani forgot to hit an RNC talking point or two last night during his prime time Republican Convention address, he managed, unchallenged by CNN’s Bill Hemmer, to get in another one this morning. During Hemmer’s from-the-convention interview with Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City criticized John Kerry for “being pro-war, anti-war, in his words, I am the anti-war candidate, and now being pro-war again.”

Paging Chris Matthews!

As we noted two weeks ago, the proposition that Kerry is the self-proclaimed anti-war candidate is indeed a favorite RNC talking point — one that is based on a creative cropping of something Kerry had said in a January 6, 2004 interview with Chris Matthews on “Hardball.” (As it turns out, in a subsequent interview Matthews, as Atrios wrote, went “nuclear” on Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, offended that a distorted clip from his show was “used” by one campaign against another.)

One more time, for Hemmer’s edification (and, perhaps, for the edification of his viewers), here is the actual exchange between Chris Matthews and John Kerry on which the “anti-war candidate” talking point is based:

Matthews: Do you think you belong to that category of candidates who more or less are unhappy with this war, the way it’s been fought, along with General Clark, along with Howard Dean and not necessarily in companionship politically on the issue of the war with people like Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt? Are you one of the anti-war candidates?

Kerry: I am — Yes, in the sense that I don’t believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely. Do I think this president violated his promises to America? Yes, I do, Chris. Was there a way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable? You bet there was, and we should have done it right.

Perhaps Matthews should ask CNN’s Hemmer the same question he asked Dowd: “Would you like to have your sentences cut down to a third of their length and let people decide on the first three or four words what you meant by the 20 words?”

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.