Saturday, October 21, 2006

Media Matters Latest, October 21, 2006

On Today, Vieira failed to challenge Mehlman's false claims about Democrats
On the October 20 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira failed to challenge Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman's claims that Democrats would favor "across-the-board tax increases" and that "all the post-9-11 tools we've had [would] be surrendered" if Democrats were to win control of Congress in the midterm elections. In fact, Democrats have emphatically stated that they would not raise taxes on the middle class, and Democrats have said repeatedly that they support the employment of all effective tools in combating terrorism, in compliance with the law. Read more

CNN's Crowley dredges up anti-Democrat clich├ęs, asserts: "If Democrats do sweep into power this year ... it will be through no fault their own'
During a segment that looked at the Democrats' prospects in the upcoming midterm elections, CNN's Candy Crowley devoted her report to reinforcing negative stereotypes about the Democratic Party promoted by Republicans and repeated in the media. Read more

Broadcast and cable news gave GOP free air time for new fearmongering terrorism ad
The Republican National Committee's (RNC) new political ad -- featuring clips of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists making threats against the United States and clips of explosions -- has not yet aired as a paid advertisement, but broadcast and cable news networks have already played portions of it several times as part of their news programming -- essentially giving the RNC the opportunity to fearmonger on their airwaves free of charge. Read more

Ignoring evidence to the contrary, USA Today editorial asserted 1994 "Contract with America" was "effective ... in bringing Republicans to power"
In an editorial, USA Today asserted that the Democrats may not take control of the House and/or the Senate in November because they have "failed to put together a platform as effective as the Contract with America was in bringing Republicans to power in 1994." In fact, polls from 1994 show that only a small percentage of voters said they were influenced by the contract -- and that most had not even heard of it. Read more

Reporting on Bush's campaign event with Sherwood, Dobbs, Baier ignored allegations Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress
CNN's Lou Dobbs and Fox News' Bret Baier reported on President Bush's visit to Pennsylvania to campaign for Rep. Don Sherwood and noted that Sherwood has acknowledged having an "extramarital affair." But neither Dobbs nor Baier mentioned allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress. Read more

O'Reilly's interview with Bush: Softball questions, misleading assertions, and attacks on Democrats
On the October 16, 17, and 18 editions of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly aired portions of his October 16 interview with President George W. Bush, which consisted of such "tough questions" as whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) is "soft on terrorism," whether "the anti-Bush press" is responsible for popular opposition to the war, and whether Bush was aware that critics "are trying to destroy you." O'Reilly also asked Bush, "[Y]ou work hard, right?" Read more

O'Reilly on Jimmy Carter: "He's 81 years old, and he's lost it"
On the October 18 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly baselessly claimed that former President Jimmy Carter "sympathiz[es] with Iran," and concluded of Carter: "He's 81 years old, and he's lost it." O'Reilly was referring to a recent statement by Carter in which he advocated that governments try to negotiate with their adversaries, arguing that "the best way to drive them toward more nuclear programs is to threaten them militarily." Carter then concluded from their point of view, Iran may have pursued a nuclear weapons program "to prevent the United States from taking military action" against them. Read more

Limbaugh: Recent Iraq violence shows "terrorists have voted Democrat"
On the October 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh declared that the recent surge in insurgent violence in Iraq indicates that "terrorists around the world, particularly those in Iraq, are voting Democrat today." Limbaugh maintained that "the terrorists, the Islamofascists, the jihadists" are the "key voters in this year's election," and that "[t]hey are trying to create as much havoc as possible; raise the level of violence in order to affect the midterm elections." He added: "What could be the best outcome for them [the terrorists]? Cut and run, right? Whose strategy -- whose policy amounts to cut and run? Democrats." Read more

On Today, Lauer claimed Pelosi is "controversial" -- ignoring conservatives' baseless attacks
On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer referred to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as "controversial"; however, polls do not show that the public views Pelosi as controversial. The notion that Pelosi is "controversial" has been advanced by Republicans and media figures ahead of the midterm elections. Read more

Baier uncritically reported Bush administration's baseless contention that critics of detainee bill are "just flat wrong"
During a report on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Fox News' Bret Baier uncritically reported the Bush administration's assertion that, under the bill, noncitizen detainees have a right to challenge their detention and designation as "unlawful enemy combatant[s]" and that critics of the bill who say otherwise are "just flat wrong." In fact, a detainee's ability to challenge his or her detention effectively depends on the government's willingness to provide an initial hearing, which the government can postpone indefinitely. Read more

Matthews didn't challenge McCain's pledge to go to Supreme Court if Bush indicated that he was "not going to abide" by an act of Congress
Chris Matthews did not challenge Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) assertion that he would "be one of the first to support going to the United States Supreme Court" if the president indicated through a signing statement that he was "not going to abide" by a law passed by Congress. In fact, while McCain initially rebuked President Bush over a signing statement to his detainee treatment bill and threatened close congressional oversight, he has since neither sought a ruling from the Supreme Court, nor even held hearings on the subject. Read more

On CBS, Couric asked McCain for "a little straight talk"
Previewing part of her interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), aired on the October 19 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric promised the audience "some straight talk about his presidential ambitions," then lobbed McCain a series of softball questions, at one point asking: "So, why don't you give us a little straight talk, Senator, and tell us when you'll announce you'll be running for president." In characterizing McCain's comments as "straight talk," then asking him for "a little straight talk," Couric played into McCain's self-styled reputation as a "straight talker," which, as Media Matters for America documented, has persisted in the media despite the senator's numerous flip-flops, reversals, backtracks, and inconsistencies on several key issues. Read more

O'Reilly claimed Americans "have a very high standard of living" because "[e]ven the poor have color televisions and pretty much everything they need"
Declaring on the October 18 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show that the "economy's very good," Bill O'Reilly claimed that "here at home, people have a very high standard of living" because "[e]ven the poor have color television sets and pretty much everything they need." In 2005, the Census Bureau reported that the poverty rate stabilized at 12.6 percent after four consecutive years of increases, up from the "recent low of 11.3 percent in 2000." According to Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty, of the approximately 73 million children in the United States in 2005, more than 28 million, or 39 percent, live in low-income families. Read more

Matthews claimed "Republicans know from the polls" that "terrorism" and "taxes" are their "strengths," "whether the current polls back that up or not"
Chris Matthews again falsely claimed that "Republicans know from the polls they got two strengths right now" -- "terrorism" and "[t]axes" -- and then added: "[W]hether the current polls back that up or not." Recent polling shows Americans do, in fact, trust Democrats more than Republicans on both issues. Read more

O'Reilly claimed Rosie O'Donnell "doesn't want George Bush and his administration to have a victory in Iraq because she feels they're evil"
On the October 18 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated that Rosie O'Donnell, co-host of ABC's The View, "would not answer" his question as to whether "she wanted the United States to win in Iraq." O'Reilly, who appeared on The View earlier the same day, had asked O'Donnell if she "want[ed] America to win in Iraq," to which O'Donnell responded, "I don't think it's possible." O'Reilly concluded that O'Donnell's response was "very telling" and indicated that "she doesn't want George Bush and his administration to have a victory in Iraq because she feels they're evil. It's as simple as that." O'Reilly also asserted that O'Donnell "is basing ... her position in Iraq on emotion rather than what's good for the country," but added: "I like her -- for you left-wing websites writing all this down." Read more

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