Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Media Matters Latest, October 31, 2006

NY Times' Brooks lauded Santorum's anti-poverty work, ignored his charity-related controversies
In a recent column, David Brooks wrote that if Sen. Rick Santorum loses his Pennsylvania Senate seat, it's "probably good news in Pennsylvania's bobo suburbs" but "certainly bad for poor people around the world." Brooks, however, did not mention the controversy surrounding Santorum's own charity, or his attacks on prominent international humanitarian groups. Read more

Still criticizing Vote Vets ad, FactCheck.org's Jackson falsely claimed, "There has never been a vote on body armour"
An October 30 BBC News online article reported that FactCheck.org director Brooks Jackson was "particularly irritated" by a recent television advertisement criticizing Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA). The ad in question -- produced by the newly formed group Vote Vets -- asserts that Allen voted against a Democratic amendment that would have increased U.S. National Guard funding for modern body armor. "There has never been a vote on body armour," Jackson told the BBC, echoing a September 20 FactCheck analysis of the ad he co-wrote with FactCheck researcher Justin Bank, in which they deemed the Vote Vets ad "false." The BBC further quoted Jackson stating that the April 2003 amendment -- sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) -- "did not include a word about body armour, and not a word was said about body armour during the debate." Read more

Following ABC's lead, NBC cast campaign "dirty tricks" as bipartisan but cited only GOP example
Several days after ABC's Nightline ran a report on the ad wars of the 2006 elections, claiming, without providing any examples of Democratic-sponsored attack ads, that "both sides are playing a serious game of hardball" with "mudslinging" attack ads hitting "below the belt," NBC News followed its lead, airing a report on "dirty tricks" in political campaigns without any examples of "dirty tricks" by Democrats. Read more

Barone: Democrats want to "hang up the phone and go to court" rather than intercept terrorist phone calls
On Fox News Sunday, Michael Barone falsely claimed that Democrats would prefer to "hang up the phone and go to court," rather than "listening to what ... terrorists are plotting." In fact, Democrats -- and numerous Republicans and conservatives -- have said nothing of the sort, pointing to a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Bush administration has apparently violated, that allows the government to undertake surveillance in emergency situations for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant. Read more

Russert listed Steele's contradictory comments on Iraq, then failed to challenge him on them; AP ignored his shifting positions entirely
During a debate between Maryland Senate candidates, Tim Russert read conflicting comments about the war in Iraq made by GOP candidate Michael Steele, but he failed to prompt Steele to explain the contradictory statements. An Associated Press story about the debate did not note the conflicting comments that Russert read, nor did it mention Steele's assertion that he believes the war has been "worth it." Read more

Hannity cried "media bias" for delay in reporting Allen's Webb novel accusations, but sang a different tune on Foley scandal
Sean Hannity suggested that major media outlets were "bias[ed]" against Republicans in choosing not to report that Sen. George Allen's campaign had identified what it called "simply disturbing" portions of novels written by James Webb, "until 11 days out" from the midterm elections. But when discussing a story that could hurt Republicans instead of Democrats, the Mark Foley scandal, Hannity suggested that the purported withholding of the disclosure until closer to the election had the opposite effect. Read more

NY Times: Pelosi favors "schools without prayer and death with taxes"
In a New York Times profile of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Jennifer Steinhauer described her as favoring "schools without prayer and death with taxes." In fact, Pelosi has never stated that students should not be allowed to pray in school. Rather, she has voted against federal legislation mandating times of prayer during the school day; as for the estate tax, Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues in Congress have noted that it currently affects only the wealthiest Americans. Read more

Olbermann named Dennis Miller "Worst Person in the World" for rant against Pelosi
On the October 27 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named "ex-comedian" and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller the recipient of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" award for asserting, as Media Matters for America documented, that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) is "intellectually ... not up to the task" of assuming the position of speaker in the event that Democrats gain enough seats in the midterm elections to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. As Media Matters has previously noted, other conservative media figures have also attacked Pelosi in recent weeks on the assumption that she will be elected speaker if the Democrats take control of the House. Read more

ABC's Halperin: Conservatives no longer letting "liberal entertainers" like Michael J. Fox "have a free ride"
During a report on the October 29 edition of ABC's World News Sunday about the controversy surrounding nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh's recent attacks on actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, ABC News political director Mark Halperin claimed that "[i]n the past, conservatives let liberal entertainers kind of have a free ride," but now "they're saying, under George W. Bush, if you get involved in politics, we're going to come after you and the Democrats you're supporting." As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox is campaigning for candidates who support embryonic stem cell research; in 2004, he appeared in a campaign ad for Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (PA). Read more

Despite McCain's many hedges, Borger asserted that "[n]o one would accuse McCain of equivocating on anything"
In her U.S. News & World Report column, Gloria Borger asserted that "[n]o one would accuse [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] of equivocating on anything." But McCain has done just that on a variety of issues, including tax cuts for the wealthy, abortion, teaching intelligent design to public school students, and the Confederate flag. Read more

Fox's Banderas: "I dare Media Matters to tune in"
On the October 29 edition of Fox News' Studio B Weekend, Fox News anchor Julie Banderas "dare[d] Media Matters [for America] to tune in at 5 o'clock to watch" her "talking about [actor] Michael J. Fox and [nationally syndicated radio host] Rush Limbaugh." Banderas issued the "dare" as a way to "test the left," saying that "the left blogs love to bash Fox because we're fair and balanced." "Dare you," Banderas added and then looked straight into the camera and repeated, "I dare you -- tune in at 5." Read more

Limbaugh claimed "there's a basis" for RNC ad critics have deemed racist: "Harold Ford has dated a white woman"
On the October 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that "there's a basis" for a controversial Republican National Committee (RNC) ad against Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. that critics -- including Republicans -- have deemed racist; according to Limbaugh, that "basis" is that "Harold Ford has dated a white woman." Read more

CNN's Beck, Fox's Angle misleadingly claimed Bush "was the first president to ever actually give federal funding to stem cell research"
CNN's Glenn Beck and Fox News' Jim Angle repeated the misleading claim that President Bush was "the first" president to allow funding for human embryonic stem cell research, even though the Clinton administration drafted guidelines to fund embryonic stem cell research, but those rules had yet to take effect when he left office and were suspended by the Bush administration in favor of its own, stricter set of rules. Read more

CNN's "Broken Government" special on executive power filled with broken claims of its own
The October 26 edition of CNN's weeklong series "Broken Government," hosted by CNN national correspondent John King, contained a series of falsehoods and discredited claims, including that President Bush gave an order for the Pentagon to shoot down unaccounted-for commercial airplanes on the morning of September 11, 2001; that the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah led to "the capture of 9-11 planners Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed"; and that actions by Republican senators, including the negotiation of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, represented a "Republican revolt" against Bush's assertions of executive power. Further, King uncritically reported claims by former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-WY) suggesting that the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies have prevented further attacks on U.S. soil, but King made no mention of significant evidence that other factors may have contributed to the fact that terrorists have not attacked here since 2001 or of reports that the administration's antiterrorism efforts have ensnared numerous individuals with no apparent connection to terrorists. Read more

CNN's Miles O'Brien mocked those speculating that Saddam verdict's timing may be political
During a segment with John Mercurio, senior editor of National Journal's The Hotline, on the October 30 edition of CNN's American Morning, co-host Miles O'Brien claimed that he received "a lot of emails over the weekend from the 'grassy knoll' set, and they're saying essentially that somehow the White House is going to try to engineer it so that the verdict on the Saddam Hussein trial will occur on the eve of the election, or the Sunday before, and perhaps tilt the election one way or another." O'Brien further dismissed such speculation as "the conspiracy-theory component" of the story and asked Mercurio simply to comment on the potential political effect of the verdict, the announcement of which was reportedly rescheduled from October 16 to November 5 -- two days before the midterm elections. While it cannot be said one way or the other whether the Bush administration had a hand in changing the timing of the verdict's announcement, O'Brien, in mocking such considerations as a "conspiracy theory" from "the 'grassy knoll' set," completely disregarded the facts that might lend credence to such speculation -- the Bush administration's high degree of influence over the Iraqi tribunal trying Saddam, and the administration's history of manipulating the timing of actions related to national security for political advantage. Read more

CNN's Koch falsely reported poll shows "neck and neck" race to fill DeLay's seat, but Democrat is favored
On the October 30 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent Kathleen Koch misrepresented the results of a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll, conducted October 23-25 by Zogby International, falsely claiming that the poll shows Republican write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is "neck and neck, tied actually" with Democrat Nick Lampson in the race to fill former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) open seat. In fact, the poll shows Lampson ahead of Sekula-Gibbs by eight percentage points: Lampson is currently favored by 36 percent of likely voters in the 22nd Congressional District, while Sekula-Gibbs is supported by 28 percent. A total of 35 percent of respondents support all write-in candidates combined; Koch falsely attributed support for all write-in candidates to Sekula-Gibbs. Read more

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