Mccain's Hunting Distortion,cont'd

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THE PLANK MAY 19, 2008

Mccain's Hunting Distortion,cont'd

Both the Washington Post and the Associated Press reported this weekend on John McCain's speech before the Naional Rifle Association, where he ridiculed barack Obama for allegedly suggesting that you hunt guns with a six-shooter. The Post reported:

During his speech, McCain ridiculed Obama's knowledge of guns and hunting by quoting a recent comment Obama made about using a "six-shooter" in a duck blind. "Someone should tell Senator Obama that ducks are usually hunted with shotguns," McCain said to laughter and applause.

The Associated Press reported it like this:

Clinton also criticized Obama for the remark, prompting Obama to accuse the former first lady "like she's on the duck blind every Sunday, packin' a six-shooter!"

As the NRA audience laughed, McCain said: "Someone should tell Senator Obama that ducks are usually hunted with shotguns."

But as I pointed out Friday, Obama did not say that. McCain was misquoting him. What Obama said was:

She's talking like she's Annie Oakley. Hillary Clinton's out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday. She's packing a six-shooter. C'mon, she knows better.

When McCain repeated the quote, he left out a word, turning "Hillary Clinton's out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday. She's packing a six-shooter" into "like she's on the duck blind every Sunday, packin' a six-shooter!" McCaib's misquote changed the meaning. Obama was joking that Clinton was putting herself forward as someone who hunts ducks every Sunday and carries a six-shooter, not that Clinton hunts with a six-shooter. But the AP and the Post have taken McCain's misquote at face value.

As I said, this is utterly trivial, but utterly trivial things (like Al Gore's alleged claim to have invented the internet) often turn elections. The AP and the Post ought to issue corrections. They're unintentionally complicit in the embryonic stage of a campaign smear.

--Jonathan Chait

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