Friday, January 19, 2007

Media Matters Latest, January 19, 2007

Gibson called Obama's long-known cigarette smoking a "dirty little secret"
Fox News host John Gibson claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's "dirty little secret" is that he is a cigarette smoker, despite the fact that Obama's cigarette use was, in fact, known during his 2004 Senate campaign. Guest John H. McWhorter claimed that that the reason Obama is "considered such a big deal is simply because he's black." McWhorter added that "if you took away the color of his skin, nobody right now would be paying him any attention." Read more

Wash. Times and others repeated Morris' Obama falsehood despite Morris' acknowledgment of error
In his January 17 column for The Hill, headlined "Obama's First Blunder," Fox News analyst Dick Morris falsely attacked presumptive presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for voting against "a Senate reform banning the increasingly widespread practice of legislators hiring their family members on their campaign or PAC [political action committee] payrolls." As Media Matters for America noted, Obama actually voted against a motion to table, or kill, the amendment. In a January 17 entry on The Hill's Pundits Blog, Morris acknowledged that he had been wrong, retracted his allegations against Obama, and apologized to the senator for his "mistaken reading of the record." Nevertheless, several media outlets republished Morris' column or cited it as fact, including The Washington Times and the Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon, which quoted and republished Morris' column on January 18 -- the day after Morris retracted the column. Read more

Limbaugh on Obama: "If he's got fire in his hands, what has he got in his pants?"
On the January 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, discussing Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) smoking, Rush Limbaugh said: "If he's got fire in his hands, what has he got in his pants?" Read more

Cavuto caption: "Nation in a Deep Freeze: What Global Warming?"
A segment on global warming on the January 17 edition of Fox News' Your World featured on-screen graphics that read: "Global Warming?" and "Nation in a Deep Freeze: What Global Warming?" Host Neil Cavuto began the segment by noting freezing temperatures in Texas, Arizona, and California and asking if these temperatures were "[p]roof that all this hype over global warming could be just that -- hype?" Read more

Coulter on Obama's popularity: Democrats are "stunned" that a "black man can walk and talk"
On the January 16 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Sean Hannity hosted right-wing pundit Ann Coulter for a discussion of, among other things, prospective Democratic presidential nominees, specifically the qualifications of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Coulter compared Obama to former President Gerald Ford, saying, "[E]verything they were saying to point out how little qualified Ford was as this accidental president is surely true ... tenfold in the case of Obama." Coulter went on to say: "I do think it does show -- it further confirms my point that Democrats are racist, and they're just stunned to find a black man who can walk and talk. And, you know, not being a racist, I'm not really that impressed with a black man who can walk and talk." Read more

Time's Allen suggested Obama's stated faith and pro-choice views are incompatible
Appearing on the January 17 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen claimed that "probably" most people who watched Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "say[] at the [2004 Democratic National] Convention, 'We worship an awesome God in the blue states, too,' " are unaware that "Senator Obama had 100 percent [rating] from Planned Parenthood when he was in the state legislature." Allen's comments referenced a January 17 Associated Press article noting that Obama's "eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes." Allen did not explain why voters might be surprised that Obama both claimed to believe in "an awesome God" and received a perfect score from Planned Parenthood as an Illinois state senator. Read more

Cameron falsely claimed McCain has urged temporary troop increase
On the January 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reported that, contrary to "attack ads from the liberal anti-war group MoveOn[.org]" accusing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of crafting "the idea to escalate" the Iraq war, "McCain disputes the term 'escalation,' arguing that a temporary troop surge will help stabilize Iraq and make way for a political solution." However, as Media Matters for America documented, The Washington Post reported that, on January 13, McCain told the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that "[t]o be of value, the surge [of U.S. troops in Iraq] must be substantial and it must be sustained." Moreover, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 12, McCain asserted, "A substantial and sustained increase in U.S. forces in Baghdad and Anbar province is necessary to bring down the toxic levels of violence there." He later emphasized to the committee: "As I have said before, a small, short surge would be the worst of all worlds. We need troops in the numbers required to do the job, in place for as long as it takes to complete their mission." Read more

On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Simone falsely claimed "a month ago, both Pelosi and Reid were for more troops"
On the January 16 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, while discussing President Bush's decision to deploy more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, New York radio host Mark Simone falsely asserted: "Remember, a month ago, both [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi [D-CA] and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV] were for more troops. As soon as Bush was for it, they were against it." In reality, on December 20, Pelosi issued a statement to rejecting an increase in troop levels for Iraq. She wrote: "There are no easy answers in Iraq, but there are wrong ones. I do not support increasing troop levels in Iraq to further the President's current failed policy." Additionally, on March 13, 2006, in a press release in response to a Bush speech on Iraq, Pelosi called for a change in policy and the withdrawal of U.S. troops, saying: "Instead of launching yet another public relations campaign, President Bush should use his speeches this week to provide a strategy to bring our brave men and women home safely and soon." Read more

Hume declared Libby "not responsible" for Plame leak
Brit Hume asserted as fact that Lewis "Scooter" Libby was "not responsible" for leaking the information that Valerie Plame was a CIA officer. However, Libby's indictment alleges that he did discuss Plame's CIA employment with reporter Judith Miller before it was made public, and Miller herself reported this. Read more

NY Post claimed Sen. Clinton called for cap on U.S. troops to please "liberal base"
An January 18 New York Post article claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) call for "a cap on the number of U.S. troops in Iraq" was part of "an effort to please her party's liberal base," suggesting that only a small minority of people -- the liberal base of the Democratic Party -- supports restricting the president's authority to send more troops to Iraq. But polling on the subject has demonstrated that support for congressional action to stop President Bush's troop increase goes beyond the Democratic Party's "liberal base." Read more

O'Reilly to critic of comments about abducted child: "I made no awful remarks, madam -- just asked questions"
On the January 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly responded to a viewer's email asking O'Reilly "to rectify the awful remarks you made about Shawn Hornbeck" -- who was abducted at the age of 11, held for four years, and recently found in Missouri -- by stating: "I made no awful remarks, madam -- just asked questions." Read more

WSJ editorial baselessly suggested that there are not "a lot of Democrats who feel passionately" about Sen. Clinton
A January 18 Wall Street Journal editorial focusing on potential Democratic candidates for president in 2008 suggested that there are not "a lot of Democrats who feel passionately about" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). The editorial cited no data, and recent polls do not support the Journal's conclusion. Read more

CNN's McIntyre baselessly suggested Stimson's attacks on detainee lawyers were inadvertent
On the January 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, discussing recent comments Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Charles "Cully" Stimson made on a radio station -- during which Stimson suggested that once corporate CEOs know which law firms are working on behalf of Guantánamo Bay detainees, they're going to demand that those law firms "choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms" -- CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reported that unnamed "Pentagon officials ... hope that [Stimson's] record will speak louder than a few ill-chosen words in that radio interview last week." But a Wall Street Journal column (subscription required) printed two days after Stimson's radio appearance contained a very similar statement from an unnamed "senior U.S. official," casting doubt on whether Stimson's remarks were merely "a few ill-chosen words." Read more

Did PBS' Lehrer and CBS' Pelley agree not to challenge Bush with follow-up questions?I
n recent interviews with President Bush, Jim Lehrer and Scott Pelley did not challenge several false or misleading claims that President Bush made about Iraq. Read more

Media ignored unanswered questions about Bush's new domestic surveillance program
In their January 17 coverage of the Bush administration's "innovative" new approach to domestic surveillance, numerous television outlets called the development a "major change," a "sharp reversal," and an "about-face," but not one noted that the administration's explanations of its new approach have been highly ambiguous, leaving significant questions about the extent to which the administration is actually ceding authority to the courts. Read more

Wash. Times advanced false suggestion that Pelosi got "campaign cash" from Del Monte
In his January 17 "Inside Politics" column for The Washington Times, Greg Pierce quoted a posting on the website of nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz that falsely suggested Del Monte Foods was "loading" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "with campaign cash." The posting asserted that this was a factor in the Democrats' exemption of American Samoa from the recent House proposal to increase the minimum wage. In fact, as reported by CNN and noted by Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman, Pelosi did not receive any donations from the company: Read more

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