Last week, CNN's Michael Ware challenged John McCain's unsubstantiated assertion that there were multiple neighborhoods in Baghdad where Americans could take a walk without any security at all. Ware, who is in Baghdad, explained that McCain was flat-out wrong. That, of course, set Ware up for a typical Republican smear campaign from all the right-wingers, comfortably safe here in the U.S. Almost on cue, Republican activist Matt Drudge launched the first salvo, claiming that Ware went crazy at McCain's Baghdad press conference, and that the CNN reporter actually heckled the good Senator.
Only problem? The video of the press conference (link below) shows Ware sitting quietly and politely the entire time. Oops. Maybe in John McCain's mind that's what happened.
Ware, unlike many of his colleagues based in the U.S., who cower before the GOP, fought back with facts and video. He kept the heat on McCain again this morning. You see, McCain is now claiming that the fact that his congressional delegation drove from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone, rather than flew, is somehow evidence of how great things are now in Iraq. Ware explains how, yet again, John McCain is living in Never Neverland.
O'BRIEN: CNN's Michael Ware is following the delegation's movements in Baghdad for us this morning.Then Ware calls McCain out on the lie that Ware somehow heckled him.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There is the Republican congressional delegation here in Iraq. Essentially, they're here to view the impact of the surge, or the Baghdad security plan, and, essentially, to sell its merits.
To say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to American people desperate to hear of signs of progress. Unfortunately, they chose a very poor way of displaying those signs of change and the signs of progress.
The fact that Senator McCain and a delegation can drive from the airport and walk around parts of Baghdad wrapped in a heavy security envelope is not new. Generals and American representatives have been doing such things throughout the war. Indeed, it's the old reinvented, as new. And is in no way a sign of the real progress of the surge, which the senators should be talking about.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. There was a report that said you were heckling and you were laughing during the senator's press conference. Is that true?Raw Story has the video of Ware's response -- and the video of the news conference where Ware supposedly did the heckling of John McCain. You'll note that Ware doesn't even speak during the entire press conference, and when he tries to ask a question, the press conference is immediately called to a close.
WARE: Well, let's bear in mind that this is a report that was leaked by an unnamed official, of some kind, to a blog, to somewhere on the internet. No one is going to put their name forward. We certainly haven't heard Senator McCain say anything about it, or any of his staff have come forward to say anything about it.
I did not heckle the senator. Indeed, I didn't say a word. I didn't even ask a question. In fact, when I raised my hand to ask a question the press conference abruptly ended. So, what I would suggest is that anyone who has any queries about whether I heckled, watch the videotape of the press conference -- Soledad.
Of note, Think Progress also has the video of NBC's Tom Aspell challenging McCain's "safe stroll" through Baghdad noting that with all the protection afforded the Senator, including 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters, and 2 Apache attack helicopters, "even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province.” Aspell can probably expect the next right wing attack. But Aspell and Ware have been in a war zone for years now. They're not intimidated by the right wing noise machine. They face death every day. Drudge doesn't really scare them.
Someone in the GOP delegation to Baghdad -- whether it was McCain and his people, or a Bush administration official -- sent the word to attack Ware. If the Republicans put as much time in to running the war as they do to attacking anyone who disagrees with them, we might make some progress. But, it's all one big political game for the Republicans. And when Ware and Aspell and other media based in Iraq tell the facts, they become the enemy to the Republicans.
All of us want the situation in Baghdad to improve. But we want the real story, not spin. That's what the GOP has given us for years. They've lied about the war -- and they'll keep doing it, unless responsible journalists like CNN's Michael Ware keep them honest.