ABC Errs on Obama's Iraq Votes

For Immediate Release

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Contact: 

Isabel Macdonald Communications Director 212 633 6700 x 310 imacdonald@fair.org

ABC Errs on Obama's Iraq Votes

Echoing McCain Line on 'Funding For Troops'

NEW YORK - ABC's Good Morning America (8/24/08) inaccurately described Democratic presidential
candidate Barack Obama as
opposing funding for U.S. troops in Iraq--an erroneous charge being circulated by the
McCain campaign.

In the wake of Barack
Obama's selection of fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Biden as running mate, ABC reported: "There are some policy differences
between Biden and Obama.
You can expect the Republicans to exploit those." One of those
differences, ABC correspondent John Berman noted, was that "Biden voted for extending funding for U.S. troops in Iraq, which Obama
opposed."

While Biden and Obama were indeed at odds on one war funding vote in 2007, ABC did the Republicans' work for them in exploiting
that difference by repeating the misleading charge that Obama
opposed funding for U.S. troops. "Funding for U.S. troops" is a tendentious way to describe
war-funding bills, and a vote (or a veto) against such bills is clearly not a
measure of a politician's support for the troops--a point that ABC journalists surely ought to know.

In fact, Obama
voted for every war funding bill that came before him in the Senate through
April 2007, when the Senate included a non-binding call for a timetable for
withdrawal in the war funding bill H.R. 1591 (barackobama.com, 1/5/08).
When George W. Bush vetoed that bill, Obama and other
Democratic Senators (not including Biden) voted
against the May 24 version that removed the timetable. As Berman's online
colleagues reported during the primary campaign (ABCNews.com, 9/17/07),
Obama explained his vote: "We are going to bring
an end to this war and I will fight now in the United States Senate to make
sure that we don't pass any funding bill that does not have a deadline to start
bringing our troops out."

McCain's campaign has pushed to paint Obama's antiwar vote as "a vote against funding our
troops," as claimed in a July 18 ad, which contrasted that to McCain, who
"has always supported our troops." But McCain
himself voted
against
an earlier version of the war funding
bill that included the timetable, and he urged Bush to veto H.R. 1591
(McCain.Senate.gov, 4/26/07).
So both McCain and Obama could be described, by ABC's logic, as voting against "funding for U.S. troops in Iraq."

Ultimately, the war funding bill vote was
not about support for the troops, but about whether there should be a timetable
for withdrawal; ABC's decision to
frame Obama's vote as opposition to funding for the
troops perpetuates the right-wing myth that working to end the war is
anti-troop.

Berman's ABC colleagues reported online just two days prior to
his on-air account (abcnews.com, 8/22/08)
that "The GOP is planning to step up its attacks on Barack
Obama's war-funding record if the presumptive
Democratic nominee taps Joe Biden to be his running
mate." The piece quoted a Republican official who told ABC News:

Our argument will be that the Biden
pick only underscores how inexperienced Barack Obama knows he is. Obama's vote
against funding our troops was an example of inexperience and poor judgment.
The fact that his more experienced running mate made the right call highlights Obama's mistake. Whereas to date that vote hasn't gotten a
lot of attention, now it will.

And thanks to ABC's Good Morning
America
, the attention it has gotten has been given the Republican
spin treatment.

ACTION:

Ask ABC News to correct its misleading characterization of Obama's war-funding votes.

CONTACT:

ABC News
Email: netaudr@abc.com
Phone: 212-456-7777

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