On Monday's Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez misrepresented
Senator John McCain's words from an interview with his colleague John
King on Sunday about the GOP's outreach with Latinos. He described the
Arizona Republican as recommending that "the Republican Party needs to
find competent Hispanics who can fit into the party," when McCain never
used the word "competent."
Sanchez had CNN contributor Roland Martin aboard during the final two segments of the 3 pm Eastern hour, and first played a clip from the McCain interview from Sunday's State of the Union program, where the defeated presidential candidate warned that "unless we reverse the trend of Hispanic voter registration, we have a very, very deep hole that we've got to come out of." The anchor continued that McCain "went on to say, interestingly enough, that the Republican Party needs to find competent Hispanics who can fit into the party. They need to actually recruit them - is the word he uses." Martin interrupted Sanchez and asked for a clarification: "Did he actually say 'competent'?" The CNN anchor replied: "Competent, they have to be competent."
Actually, the Arizona Senator didn't say that at all. John King asked McCain to comment on the GOP's losses in the past two election cycles, and the word "competent" didn't even come up.
KING: When the presidential campaign didn't go your way, you came back here to the Senate and you promised to work hard. You also promised to try to help your party rebuild. After two tough cycles, 2006 and 2008, it's a simple question - how's the Republican Party doing?
MCCAIN: Could I say- there's two things. One is fiscal discipline- being conservative fiscally. We lost a lot of our base because they thought we had become big spenders, and basically they were right. On the issue of the Hispanic voter - we have to do a lot more. We Republicans have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office, and I don't mean just because they're Hispanics. But they represent a big part of the growing population in America, and we have a lot of work to do there. And I am, I am of the belief that unless we reverse the trend of Hispanic voter registration, we have a very, very deep hole that we've got to come out of.
[UPDATE from NewsBusters the next day: "CNN's Sanchez Admits to Erroneous 'Paraphrase' of John McCain "]
Martin used Sanchez's misrepresentation of McCain's words to imply that it was a bigoted remark:
MARTIN: Well, first of all, I never hear anybody use the word 'competent' when we're talking about white guys. I mean, it's always a matter of using it with African-Americans or Hispanics. SANCHEZ: Well, but in defense of John McCain, you know what he's trying to say.
MARTIN: No, no, no- no, no- no.
SANCHEZ: We don't just go out and get any Hispanic. Let's get good Hispanics.
MARTIN: Yeah- but, again, I never- I never hear the qualify- I never hear the qualifier when talking about white guys. And so, I always have an issue with that.
SANCHEZ: Your point is well taken.
Would Martin have said that if Sanchez had only given a direct quote from Senator McCain?
- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.