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McCain: Cone of silence or no cone of silence?

By Jimmy Orr / August 18, 2008


Thar's a conspiracy a bubblin' out in the land-of-the-tubes...

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Well, there's two. But one has to do with the alleged finding of Bigfoot. One conspiracy at a time...

Seems that when John McCain was supposed to be in a soundproof vault Saturday night or as Saddleback church pastor Rick Warren put it, a "cone of silence," he was actually in his motorcade.

The deal going in to the high-profile first meeting of the two candidates was that while Barack Obama was being questioned by the best-selling author, John McCain would be in a disclosed - but soundproof - location in the building unable to hear the exchange between the two.

Not so. Yesterday on CNN, Warren confirmed that McCain was not in the building when the forum began. So how do we know if McCain listened or watched any of the discussion beforehand?

Warren told CNN Sunday evening, “we flat out asked him” if he heard any of the questions. The McCain campaign “confirmed that McCain did not hear or see any of the broadcast” in the motorcade or after he arrived.

There had been speculation before the CNN interview that John McCain perhaps might have heard something. NBC's Andrea Mitchell brought it up on Meet the Press.

"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.

This exchange got the McCain folks pretty upset. So upset that campaign manager Rick Davis requested a meeting with the president of NBC news stating that it is "abandoning non-partisan coverage of the presidential race." Politico has the full letter here.

The New York Times's Elizabeth Bumiller got a hold of McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace who took umbrage at the charge.

“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.

Regardless, bloggers - like folks over at the DailyKos - don't buy it.

CNN says they talked to McCain's camp and they said no one in his camp was listening. The honor system, are you kidding me? I think it is pretty clear at this point McCain did indeed know the questions in advance.

Preparing its readers for Warren's appearance on Larry King Live tonight, FiveThirtyEight.com lays the foundation for what they say is factual.

If McCain was in the motorcade, then there would be absolutely nothing, other than his honor, that would prevent him from hearing Obama's questions. However, it is probably impossible to verify whether McCain had in fact heard any of the questions. The only people who could say for sure were the people in the motorcade with John McCain.
What we can possibly verify is whether the McCain people had violated an implied or expressed promise to have arrived at the venue by the time that Barack Obama's interview began. Warren implied to a national audience that McCain was in a quarantined area at the time Obama's interview began, but in fact McCain was not.

So, big deal or not? Larry King should get a big audience tonight.

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