The "McCain Cheated!" Saddleback Rumor

Amanda Carpenter
|
Posted: Aug 17, 2008 9:28 PM
The Obamaphiles can't believe McCain could have outperformed the Messiah at the Saddleback Showdown So, they're floating out a rumor he "cheated" and was not contained in Pastor Rick Warren's promised "cone of silence."

Maybe he heard Obama's Q & A. Maybe someone was sending his text messages with the questions. There has to be SOME reason McCain did better than Obama that cannot be attributed to McCain's experience, wit and conversational skill, they're thinking.

This comes from none other than MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press this morning.  H/T Newsbusters:
Mitchell: The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MS. MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.

Now, I understand the Obama people are mad. But if they are going to accuse McCain of cheating to members of the media, they'd better dang well have some proof.  I don't lay blame on petty staffers, though. I expect them to gripe after a bad performance by their boss. I don't expect their whining to be legitimately reported without any skepticism.

So my question is this:  is it fair for Andrea Mitchell to "put out" what the Obama people are saying privately, true or not? (Remember, she also passed on the Obama rumor McCain persuaded the Pentagon to spike Obama's visit to the wounded troops in Germany.)

I don't have a problem with openly discussing political rumors as long as they are done with an eye towards verification purposes. And here's why. Townhall bloggers, and lots of other people, openly discussed rumors of a controversial Michelle Obama video floating around. Most of the discussion about the Michelle video (which never turned up) focused on trying to determine whether it existed and trying to figure out who started the rumor in the first place.

On the other hand,  Mitchell eagerly reports anti-McCain rumors without any consideration if they're true or not. Passing them on just for the sake of throwing some dust up over McCain's performance isn't right. If there's any evidence McCain could hear Obama's Q & A session, that's newsworthy no doubt. Till there is, I expect most people will chalk this up to yet another example of MSNBC being in the tank for Obama.