Scoreboard Scoop! Biden and McCain
(October 2008)

Barrack Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, caused a media sensation and set off John McCain on another wild goose hunt when he announced that a President Obama would be quickly “tested” by foreign foes of the U.S., and that he would meet the international crisis effectively wand with leadership skill. The media treated the comment as another of the bizarre rhetorical flights of fancy that have made the Delaware Democrat a perpetual source of entertainment during his long Washington career. McCain immediately went on the attack: the U.S. doesn’t want or need a manufactured crisis to test a president without sufficient experience or international credibility, he said. With McCain in office, there would be no crisis, because he had already been tested.

Both Biden and McCain were behaving irresponsibly and unethically. But inexplicably, the national media either didn’t know or didn’t report why, which is this:

As U.S. Senators, both Biden and McCain had received a classified intelligence briefing stating that a serious international crisis, perhaps a major attack on the U.S., is expected in early 2009.

Biden, who was duty-bound not to divulge the contents of his briefing, chose to virtually but not technically violate that duty by revealing the information in a misleading context that could make him look like a prophet later. That was irresponsible and dishonest, not to mention juvenile. McCain, who knew that the crisis, if it came, would be unaffected by the results of the election, responded to the literal meaning of Biden’s comments knowing its true context and source, and also knowing that if the intelligence report was correct, he would be “tested” as President, just as Obama would. Senator McCain, therefore, also misled the public.

To Senator Obama’s credit, when the controversy came to him for comment, he managed to tap-dance around Biden’s half-revelation without either spilling the beans or being misleading. Ethics point, Barack Obama.

But why has none of this been reported and explained? A mystery! I have been told about the briefing by two very reliable (and unrelated) sources, and it does not seem to be a very closely-guarded secret at all, at least in the Washington political community. Is it possible that no enterprising reporter has been able to ferret out this information? That seems unlikely. Is the media protecting the vice-presidential candidate it has decided is the only one “qualified to be President on Day One” from public exposure as a self-serving blabbermouth who can’t keep a secret? That seems unlikely too, although with the depths journalism has sunk to in 2008, almost any ethical outrage is possible. Is the media, which typically exercises no restraint at all in revealing sensitive, classified but juicy information when it falls into its clutches, actually being discreet?


The Scoreboard just doesn’t know where the news media was on this story.

But it does know that Joe Biden and John McCain ended up lying about information they weren’t supposed to be talking about at all. As for the Scoreboard, we’re thinking about spending January in the Falklands.

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