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John McCain: 'Fake News' a Fake Scandal

Newsmax | December 5 2005

Sen. John McCain said Sunday that the Bush administration did nothing wrong in the so-called "fake news" scandal, where the Pentagon paid Iraqi newspapers to carry reports that paint the U.S. liberation in a positive light - as long as the stories are true.

"If these are accurate stories written by legitimate people then I don't think there's anything wrong with that," McCain told NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Arizona Republican's answer clearly disappointed MTP moderator-turned-Leakgate prosecution witness Tim Russert, who asked incredulously: "But here we are trying to teach democracy and freedom of the press and the lack of state-sponsored censorship, if you will, and we're paying Iraqis to print articles?":

McCain shot back: "If these are accurate stories then we should make every effort to get them out. We are in a propaganda war. This is a war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people as well."

At that, an irked Russert interrupted: "But in principle you have no problem paying the Iraqis?"

McCain replied: "If that's the standard procedure in Iraq - if that's what you need to do to get a story in one of these newspapers . . . . then I'm not terribly offended by it."

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