Friday, January 26, 2007

Media Matters for America summary, January 27, 2007

CNN, NBC blame Obama "opponents" for smears advanced by media
Anderson Cooper, David Gregory, and Soledad O'Brien have all asked Sen. Barack Obama about smears leveled against him, purportedly by his political "opponents" or "enemies." But in each case, they did not name any of these "opponents." Indeed, by framing their questions in terms of political "opponents," they ignored the media's role in promoting these smears, and in some cases originating them. Read more

Hardball analyst: Clinton "too cold" and "too elitist"
On the January 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, during a report on the importance of Western states in U.S. elections, NBC News correspondent George Lewis aired a quote by Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior scholar at the University of Southern California, asserting that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) is "too New York, too elitist, too cold, if you will, to really talk the language of the Intermountain West." Read more

CNN's Bash ignored McCain flip-flop on administration's Iraq war rhetoric
On the January 25 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash aired a statement by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticizing the Bush administration for presenting "rosy scenarios" about the situation in Iraq, which he said "exacerbated" public "disillusionment" with the war. But Bash did not tell viewers that McCain has previously commended President Bush for providing the public with what McCain characterized as an accurate assessment of the situation in Iraq. Read more

Ignoring reports of poor performance, Fox analyst touted presence of Iraqi forces on Haifa Street
On Special Report, Fox News' Bret Baier aired a quote by retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales Jr., who uncritically touted military operations on Haifa Street in Baghdad as "evidence of the Iraqi army and the police on the march." But Baier did not mention first-hand accounts of various battles for Haifa Street that indicated that U.S. forces led the fighting, Iraqi forces performed poorly, and residents accused Iraqi forces on Haifa Street of "atrocities." Read more

O'Reilly: Sunni and Shiite Iraqis "have fun" when they "kill each other"
Discussing Iraq during the January 24 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that "the Sunni and Shia want to kill each other. ... They have fun. This is -- they like this. This is what Allah tells them to do, and that's what they do." O'Reilly then asserted that the "essential mistake of the war" was failing to anticipate that "these people would act like savages, and they are." Later, O'Reilly said that he had not predicted that the Iraqis "were going to act like savages in the aftermath of Saddam [Hussein]," and added: "[N]ow, Iran, we know they're savages." As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here), O'Reilly has repeatedly stated his indifference to the deaths of Iraqis and the fate of their country. Recently, O'Reilly claimed that Iraq is not in "civil war," but rather that Muslims are just "doing what they do. They're killing each other. And they're killing Americans" Read more

Hannity falsely claimed Fox poll found Dems don't want Bush's plan to succeed in Iraq
On the January 25 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity falsely stated that "a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll recently showed that most Democrats don't even want the president's plan to succeed in Iraq." In fact, the poll showed that 51 percent of Democratic respondents said they want President Bush's "Iraq plan" to succeed, compared with 34 percent who said they don't. Read more

Olbermann named Limbaugh "Worst Person"; Morgan received "runner-up"
On the January 25 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for, as Media Matters for America noted, "reading a made-up quote from [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] supposedly responding to an endorsement from actress Halle Berry." Olbermann observed: "[Limbaugh] later admitted it was made up, but Fatso still said, 'As a Halfrican-American I am honored to have Ms. Berry's support as well as the support of other Halfrican-Americans.' " Read more

Couric repeated administration spin on health care plan: Uninsured will be able to buy coverage
On the January 25 edition of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric echoed the Bush administration claim that its proposed "tax break" would "help" the uninsured "buy" health insurance, without noting that the plan would reportedly do little to help many of those who currently lack health insurance. In fact, even the Bush administration has reportedly stated that the tax deduction would help only an estimated 3 million to 5 million of those currently uninsured to be able to purchase health insurance, likely leaving more than 40 million people without insurance. Read more

NPR, Wash. Post latest to dismiss Beck's smears, falsehoods
On the January 25 edition of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, as part of their "Crossing the Divide" series, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik interviewed conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who was described by host Michele Norris as someone "with absolutely no interest in crossing the divide." During the report, Folkenflik purported to contrast Limbaugh with "rival conservative talk show host" Glenn Beck who has his own show on CNN Headline News and was recently hired as a "regular commentator" for ABC's Good Morning America. Folkenflik uncritically reported that Beck finds that "severe rhetoric only drives people apart" and made the misleading claim that Beck has "taken flak" for his beliefs. In fact, Beck has "taken flak" for a host of smears and inflammatory comments he has made -- his denunciations of "severe rhetoric" notwithstanding. For instance, during a November 14, 2006, interview with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Beck said: "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies,' " a comment he later stated was "poorly worded" and "wish[ed]" he "could take back and rephrase." The weblog Think Progress also noted Folkenflik's report. Read more

Fox News to air deleted, false scenes from ABC's The Path to 9/11
According to a January 26 Los Angeles Times article, Fox News will rebroadcast "footage from ABC's controversial miniseries 'The Path to 9/11' that was edited out of the docudrama amid criticism that it inaccurately portrayed the Clinton administration's response to the terrorism threat." Read more

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