Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Media Matters Latest, December 19, 2006

Newsweek ignored own poll to suggest Clinton is unelectable

The online version of the December 25 Newsweek cover story, titled "Is America Ready for Hillary or Obama?" questioned Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) electability using a WNBC/Marist poll conducted November 27 through December 3. The article reported that the poll "showed that 47 percent of respondents nationwide 'definitely will not consider' voting for her, a percentage that alarms some former aides to President Clinton. Those numbers will need to change for Democratic primary voters -- now comfortable with assessing electability -- to move her way." But Newsweek ignored its own, more recent poll, conducted December 6-7, despite including it in a press release promoting the article. That poll showed Clinton outpolling three prominent potential Republican nominees: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 50 percent to 43 percent, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) 48 percent to 47 percent, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) 58 percent to 32 percent. Read more

Brooks sees Iraq situation as no-lose for McCain

On the December 17 editions of the NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show and NBC's Meet the Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks suggested that no matter what happens in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, will gain politically. On The Chris Matthews Show, after host Chris Matthews said that "[n]ew signs suggest that President Bush might actually increase the troops in Iraq, a step John McCain has long called for," Brooks said that even if McCain's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq "do[es]n't do the job," McCain would gain politically because "people look at his convictions." As the weblog Think Progress noted, when asked by Matthews if McCain would be "disproven" if "it turns out more troops don't do the job," Brooks said: "Not at this late date." Brooks added that in such a scenario, McCain will say, "with a lot of justice, it is too late." Similarly, on the same day's edition of Meet the Press, Brooks said that in 2008, "it's more likely than not that Iraq will be a complete mess, that Iran will be very close to nuclear weapons, that a government like Jordan or Syria or Lebanon could be falling." Brooks added: "It's going to look pretty nasty, I think. And I think that really raises [former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani (R) and John McCain's record." Read more

Wash. Post presented -- without evidence -- Bill Clinton as a campaign "distraction"

A Washington Post article speculated whether Bill Clinton will be the "biggest issue" in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presumptive 2008 presidential candidacy. But nowhere does the article offer any concrete evidence that Bill Clinton is anything but an asset to his wife or that the public sees in him the "massive and messy distraction" the article suggests the "media-industrial complex" sees. Read more

Russert ignored, Blitzer downplayed Bush Iraq policy speech delay

NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert ignored and CNN host Wolf Blitzer downplayed the Bush administration's decision to delay the release of a revised strategy for Iraq from before Christmas until the new year. Blitzer uncritically reported Bush's explanation for the delay as fact: that Bush "will not be rushed" into making a decision. Neither considered the possibility, articulated by National Review White House correspondent Byron York and others, that Bush put off announcing a plan in part for political advantage. Read more
WSJ's Pollock on why increasing troops "not a hard thing to do": just cut breaks and extend tours of dutyOn the December 16 edition of Fox News' Journal Editorial Report, after Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley claimed that it would be "very difficult," politically, for President Bush to increase troop levels in Iraq, fellow Journal board member Robert Pollock countered: "[A]ll that means is decreasing the length of some breaks from tours of duty and increasing the lengths of some tours of duty." Pollock added: "That's not a hard thing to do." Read more

MSNBC: When will media "honeymoon" with possibly "overrated" Obama end?

On MSNBC News Live, Amy Robach asked if the purported "honeymoon" Sen. Barack Obama is enjoying with the media would "officially [be] over when he officially enters the [2008 presidential] race." While Robach did not comment on MSNBC's coverage of Obama during this purported "honeymoon" period, MSNBC hosts and guests have highlighted Obama's middle name and mocked his purported sensitivity to comments about his ears. Read more

AP falsely suggested that NSA can eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant

A December 17 Associated Press report falsely suggested that Congress would need to pass a law to prohibit the Bush administration from "eavesdrop[ping] on Americans' electronic communications" without a warrant. In fact, such a law already exists -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) -- and the Bush administration's apparent violation of FISA has given rise to bipartisan condemnation. The article, discussing what actions Congress could take in response to President Bush's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, stated that "[t]he president ... can veto legislation, including a law demanding the National Security Agency obtain warrants before monitoring communications." Read more

Russert failed to challenge Gingrich's claim of exoneration by IRS in ethics controversy

Tim Russert let Newt Gingrich claim, without challenge, that the Internal Revenue Service "said there was nothing wrong" with funding a college course he had taught with tax-deductible donations. However, in its final report, the IRS wrote that "if the [House] Ethics Committee had rendered full cooperation with our examination, the transcripts might have affected our conclusion." Read more

Bennett's Sense of Irony: It's snowing in December

Discussing then-upcoming screenings of former Vice President Al Gore's documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, on the December 15 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, conservative radio host William Bennett mockingly claimed that "half the people in the country" will "have to fight through snowstorms to watch this global warming thing." Read more

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