John McCain Still a Republican

Q: Has Sen. John McCain “renounced any affiliation with the Republican Party”?

A: No. That claim was made in a fake news story published by a “satirical publication.”

FULL QUESTION

I just read John McCain left the Republican Party, is this true?

FULL ANSWER

Sen. John McCain is still a Republican, despite bogus reports that claim otherwise.

A story posted on WashingtonFeed.com says: “Senator McCain has definitely renounced any affiliation with the Republican Party.” It purports to quote the Arizona senator as saying, “I am and always will be opposed to Donald Trump. In fact, I’ve decided that any party that supports supports [sic] him supports the worst America has to offer. For that reason, I’m leaving the GOP and Caucusing [sic] as an independent with the Democrats.”

Facebook users flagged the story as potentially fake using the social network’s tools for reporting a hoax. They were right to be suspicious.

McCain has not switched parties. That quote first appeared in an April 13 story by America’s Last Line of Defense, which falsely claimed that McCain made the announcement during an appearance on “Fox and Friends.” It was the second time this year that the website published a phony story calling McCain a “traitor” for purportedly leaving the GOP.

Regular readers of FactCheck.org know that America’s Last Line of Defense publishes fake stories as satire. A disclaimer on the site reads: “America’s Last Line of Defense is a satirical publication that may sometimes appear to be telling the truth. We assure you that’s not the case. We present fiction as fact and our sources don’t actually exist.”

Press releases published on McCain’s Senate website still refer to him as a Republican, as do his official Twitter and Facebook pages. There also has been no mainstream news coverage of a switch, such as there was when the late Arlen Specter, a longtime Republican senator for Pennsylvania, joined the Democratic Party in 2009.

As we have written before, fake news sites often copy content from one another. In this case, the Washington Feed copied its story from the Conservative Patriot blog, which published a paraphrased version of the fictional story from America’s Last Line of Defense.

But unlike WashingtonFeed.com, ConsPatriot.com includes a disclaimer that says, “All the information on this website is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. http://www.conspatriot.com/ does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information.”

Rumors of McCain leaving the Republican Party are not new. He has previously denied legitimate news reports that he had considered switching parties in the early 2000s.

In 2007, for example, the Hill, a congressional news publication, reported that former Democratic lawmakers said that McCain was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001 after losing the Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush.

But McCain said that wasn’t the case.

“As I said in 2001, I never considered leaving the Republican Party, period,” McCain said, according to a statement released by his campaign, the Hill reported in 2007.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

WashingtonFeed.com. “Boom: McCain Makes Major Announcement About His Future … Republicans Cheering!” Accessed 7 Jun 2017.

America’s Last Line of Defense. “About Us.” Accessed 7 June 2017.

Stryker. “Breaking: John McCain Goes Full TRAITOR! Does the UNTHINKABLE!” Thelastlineofdefense.com. 13 April 2017.

Kiely, Eugene, and Robertson, Lori. “How to Spot Fake News.” FactCheck.org. 18 Nov 2016.

Cusack, Bob. “Democrats say McCain nearly abandoned GOP.” Thehill.com. 28 Mar 2007.

McCain, John. “McCain Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Enhance Accountability and Protect Whistleblowers at VA.” Mccain.senate.gov. 6 Jun 2017.

@SenJohnMcCain. “U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee.” Twitter.com. Accessed 7 June 2017.

@JohnMcCain. “About.” Facebook.com. Accessed 7 June 2017.

Hulse, Carl. “Specter Switches Parties.” The Caucus Blog. New York Times. 18 Apr 2009.

Bailey, Chelsea. “McCain Calls Trump’s Dictator Praise ‘Very Disturbing.‘” NBCnews.com. 2 May 2017.

Watkins, Eli. “McCain calls on Trump to clarify wiretapping claim.” CNN.com. 14 Mar 2017.

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