Thursday, October 26, 2006

Media Matters Latest, October 26, 2006

Media falsely reported Limbaugh "apologized" for attacking Michael J. Fox
On October 24 and 25, a number of media outlets -- including ABC News, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press -- falsely reported that nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh "apologized" for recent comments he made about actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease. As Media Matters for America documented, Limbaugh alleged on the October 23 edition of his radio program that Fox's physical appearance in a recent campaign advertisement endorsing Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill for supporting embryonic stem cell research, in which Fox was "moving all around and shaking," was "purely an act." Limbaugh then added that "this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two." But while Limbaugh also stated on October 23 that "I will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act," Limbaugh not only did not apologize, he defended his comments on his show the next day. Pointing to Fox's statement in his book, Lucky Man: A Memoir (Hyperion, April 2002), that he testified before Congress in 1999 "without medication," Limbaugh declared on his October 24 show that "all I said yesterday was: 'He's either acting or he's off his meds.' I was right. He was off his meds." Read more

MSNBC's Battleground America let conservative misinformation fly
MSNBC's October 24 special, Battleground America, was rife with conservative misinformation, Republican talking points, and falsehoods. Wall-to-wall coverage of the midterm elections, now less than two weeks away, contained a slew of previously debunked claims made -- or left unchallenged -- by NBC News journalists. In one segment, MSNBC political analyst Monica Crowley listed Democrats who would be in line to become committee chairs if the Democrats gained a majority and stated, "This is what you are going to get, ladies and gentlemen, if you vote the Democrats into power. So, I understand dissatisfaction with the Republicans, but think twice before you vote." Read more

CNN's Crowley uncritically aired Corker's false statement that he "never said a negative word about [Ford's] family"
CNN's Candy Crowley uncritically aired Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker's false claim that he has "never said a negative word" about the family of his Democratic opponent, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. In fact, Corker has "question[ed]" Ford's father's employment as a lobbyist, and Corker's campaign has repeatedly attacked Ford's family as the "Ford Political Machine." Read more

ABC pre-emptively criticized Democrats for negative campaign ads that have not yet been produced
In a report on how recent campaigns advertisements are "getting ugly," ABC News, unable to point to a single instance of "nasty" attacks from Democratic candidates or their supporters, suggested it is only a matter of time before "the left" begins to "unleash its garbage as well." ABC News offered no evidence to back up its allegation that Democrats might soon resort to distasteful, negative advertising. Read more

Media extensively covered -- and replayed -- GOP terror ad; will they give DNC Iraq ad same treatment?
Last week, the Republican National Committee unveiled an advertisement that invoked the specter of terrorism in an effort to win votes in the upcoming midterm elections. As Media Matters for America noted, the ad was given extensive media coverage, particularly by cable news networks, which replayed the ad again and again. Read more

Limbaugh still defending his Michael J. Fox attacks; MSNBC's Slager falsely asserted Fox "has not said whether or not" he took medication before making ads
Rush Limbaugh defended his criticism of Michael J. Fox, claiming: "Daffy Duck could have done a commercial for Claire McCaskill, saying the same things that Fox did, misleading about stem cell research ... and my reaction would've been the same." MSNBC's Melissa Slager said that Fox "has not said whether or not he took" his Parkinson's medication during the shooting of his political ads, even though The New York Times reported that a Fox spokesman "said his tremors were caused by his medication." Read more

MSNBC gave free airtime to new RNC attack ad Republican William Cohen called "overtly racist"
MSNBC provided free air time for a new Republican National Committee (RNC) ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. that critics, including an NAACP spokesman and former Republican Sen. William Cohen, have called racist. Read more

White House again times Iraq policy to U.S. elections; CBS' Couric and Axelrod show little interest, despite surge of troop deaths
CBS' Jim Axelrod reported that a White House official told him, "[D]o not expect to see anything significant prior to Election Day" "as far as a significant change" in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and then quoted the official as saying: "You're not going to see anything before November 8th. It would be political suicide, and Karl Rove would never allow it." Axelrod and anchor Katie Couric failed to point out that, as of October 25, the death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq stood at 91 for the month, which sets a pace that would make October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in two years. Read more

Matthews suggested that in order for Democrats to be "grown-up," they have to "sit in the front seat and drive the car"
On the October 24 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asserted that Democrats have no plan for Iraq and then asked rhetorically: "Do you know what the difference is between a grown-up and a kid?" Matthews then suggested that to be "grown-up," Democrats have to "sit in the front seat and drive the car." Earlier, when Republican strategist Ed Rogers said that Democrats "don't offer an alternative" to the current strategy in Iraq, Matthews replied, "I agree with you on that." In fact, Democrats do have near-consensus on a strategy in Iraq. In a vote held in June, a strong majority of Senate Democrats supported initiating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, despite disagreement over how soon that withdrawal should take place. Thirty-seven Democratic senators voted for a nonbinding amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that called for the "beginning of a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year" and urged the administration to submit to Congress a plan for continued redeployment beyond 2006. Six Democratic senators voted against the amendment, and one did not vote. Media Matters for America has noted that Democrats have laid out plans for the future of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and other national security issues, and also that many media figures often ignore them or mischaracterize them using Republican talking points. Read more

Now that Bush has abandoned "stay the course," will media challenge GOP candidates who have used the phrase?
Numerous Republican lawmakers and candidates have echoed President Bush's repeated assertions that the United States must "stay the course" in Iraq. But now that Bush has "stopped using" the phrase when talking about the Iraq war, will the media ask GOP candidates who have stressed the need to "stay the course" in Iraq whether they will follow the president's lead in abandoning this language, or adhere to his, and their, original position? Read more

UPDATE: NY Times published correction to flawed Lieberman article
On October 25, The New York Times published an article correcting a false assertion made in an October 24 Times article on Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) -- that Lieberman never "utter[ed] the words 'stay the course' " with regard to the Iraq war. Media Matters for America documented several instances in which Lieberman used that exact phrase when discussing Iraq. The October 25 article noted: "Senator Joseph I. Lieberman has used the phrase 'stay the course' several times in discussing the war in Iraq in recent years, echoing a key phrase of the White House, contrary to an article published Tuesday in The New York Times." The Times also posted a correction to the online version of the October 24 article, noting that "Mr. Lieberman has indeed used the phrase; in the hundreds of statements reviewed, it appears at least half a dozen times." Read more

Hardball, Big Story, and Your World reports accepted Bush administration's misleading wage and jobs claims
MSNBC and Fox News uncritically reported claims by the Bush administration, including that "wages for the average middle-class American today are actually higher than they were just a couple of years ago," ignoring a report alleging that the median hourly real wage has "declined 2 percent since 2003." Read more

Cavuto touted Barron's report as "a possible reason for the uptick" in stock market, without noting inconsistencies
Fox News host Neil Cavuto stated that an October 23 report in Barron's that predicted the GOP would retain control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections was "a possible reason for the uptick" in the stock market that day while not challenging Barron's Washington bureau chief Jim McTague -- who declared, "[T]he numbers don't lie" -- about the false suggestion in the Barron's report that it has used a consistent methodology in predicting Republican victories in 2002, 2004, and now in 2006. Read more

ABC's Halperin told O'Reilly and Hannity his network will "prove to conservatives that we understand their grievances," and "explain to people what Nancy Pelosi's liberal views are like"
Appearing on the October 23 broadcast of Fox News host Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated radio program and on the October 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, ABC News political director Mark Halperin claimed that the "old liberal media" -- the broadcast networks, CNN, and major newspapers -- are "too focused on being more favorable to [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi [CA], say, than [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich [R-GA]." Halperin told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that ABC and the rest of the "old liberal media" have "a chance in these last two weeks" before the midterm elections "to prove to conservatives that we understand their grievances," and that "[w]e should use this last two weeks as an opportunity to help rebuild our reputation with half the country." He added: "[A] failing of the press is not doing enough to explain to people what Nancy Pelosi's liberal views are like." Halperin made a point of distinguishing ABC from the rest of the "old liberal media" during his appearance of The Sean Hannity Show, however, stating: "I'm proud of where I work, where we understand that we've got to not be liberal, we've got to not be perceived as liberal." Read more

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