- Following John McCain’s death, the media has praised him as a beacon of heroism.
- The media, however, blamed McCain for inflaming racial tensions in America during his run for president.
- The media criticized McCain for not voting consistently on issues, which they now call “bipartisanship.”
The media has lauded Arizona Sen. John McCain’s record of remarkable bipartisanship following his death Saturday, but it seems the media have all but forgotten its history of painting the “maverick” as a hate-filled radical.
While campaigning for his 2008 president run, McCain was portrayed as an extremist, receiving blame for the racial and political tension seemingly brewing in American politics.
Accusations bubbled after McCain aired a campaign ad referring to then-opponent Barack Obama as a celebrity. Following its release, The New York Times editorial board promptly responded calling it a “racially tinged attack” since the ad juxtaposed Obama with young white celebrities.
Other media outlets quickly followed suit: Bill Press, co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, accused the ad of being “deliberately and deceptively racist;” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said it was “almost subliminal racism” and Talking Points Memo co-founder Josh Marshall contended that McCain is “pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women,” reported Politico. Ezra Klein, co-founder of Vox, also accused McCain of “running crypto-racist ads” during his campaign.
What started out as a drip metastasized into full-blown accusations of promulgating a racist agenda. (RELATED: Tucker Exposes Media Hypocrisy Over Treatment Of John McCain)
“What I’m seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history,” Georgia Rep. John Lewis said only two months after the “Celeb” ad aired. “[The campaign is] sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”
Lewis further signified McCain was complicit in racial segregation, comparing him to the former governor of Alabama and segregationist George Wallace.
“George Wallace never threw a bomb,” Lewis continued. “He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.”
CNN Anchor Don Lemon implied similar sentiments, telling his followers on Twitter that “the question is” if the McCain campaign was “inciting hate and hate speech.”
And in a memorable exchange, McCain defended Obama against a supporter who referred to his opponent as an Arab — McCain corrected her saying, “No Ma’am, he’s a decent family man citizen.” Teen Vogue referred to the defense as “patently Islamaphobic.” On a separate occasion, the Guardian further accused him of siding with “religious and political extremists who believe Islam is evil and gays are immoral.”
McCain was also often depicted as a warmonger, despite frequently and explicitly denouncing war.
During a 2008 speech for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), McCain justified his stance regarding America’s involvement in Iraq.
“I hold my position on Iraq not because I am indifferent to the suffering caused by this war, but because I detest war,” he explained.
The comment was soon followed up with Ed Schultz, nationally syndicated radio host calling McCain a “warmongering candidate” and implying the senator’s only intent was to “cheerlead for the surge.”
And while media outlets now tout McCain as a politician who “put country first, ahead of party” and ofttimes reached across the aisle, he was at one time excoriated for not having a straight-party voting record.
McCain was criticized for his “shifting rhetoric” on abortion issues, which reportedly confused voters in a pursuit to “game” the system.
The media also attacked him personally. A book about the senator claimed he called his wife Cindy “you c*nt” and told her she wore “makeup like a trollop.” It was also rumored that he joked Chelsea Clinton was so ugly because her father was former Attorney General Janet Reno. He was also said to have bragged about his sexual conquests and sexist double standards.
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