Carville, Media Critic, On What Wes Said

Yesterday, Zack wrote here that some of the press coverage of What Wes Said* (an exchange between Gen. Wesley Clark and CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation on Sunday) “is the perfect embodiment of the press’s unbelievably destructive habit of assessing every piece of campaign rhetoric for its political acuity, rather than for its validity and accuracy.” As if on cue, CNN’s John Roberts asked James Carville the following question this morning:

ROBERTS: The bottom line politically is that [Clark is] supporting Barack Obama here. Barack Obama rejected his comments and [Clark] came back out and [defended them]. Is he hurting Barack Obama by…

CARVILLE: I don’t know if he’s hurting Barack Obama. But what he’s doing is helping the truth. When the media does not report the truth and the media does not report the context in which these remarks were made and that they were in response to something, and maybe what I want to really believe is maybe Senator Obama’s staff didn’t tell him exactly how General Clark’s remarks were done. What General Clark said was an appropriate comment for him to make. It was an observation that’s totally legitimate. I’m delighted he didn’t back down.

*What Wes Said

CLARK: I certainly honor [McCain’s] service as a prisoner of war…But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded—that wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall.

SCHIEFFER: Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down…

CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.