Despite the availability of expenditure reports showing that Sen. John McCain's campaign used a corporate jet owned by his wife's company over a seven-month period beginning in the summer of 2007, several members of the media asserted earlier this year that McCain flew coach when the campaign was low on funds.
Articles in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times reported that Sen. John McCain disapproved of an ad produced by the North Carolina Republican Party that attacks Sen. Barack Obama for his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and that McCain called on the party not to air it. But neither newspaper noted Obama's response, nor that this ad is part of a pattern in which McCain supporters and even McCain staff members have spread smears about Obama, and McCain has denounced those smears even as he has reaped their benefits.
On Morning Joe, after Pat Buchanan said of Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech following the Pennsylvania primary that "only once or twice did that voice start rising to the level that every husband in America at one time or another has heard. You know, where it starts going up -- " Joe Scarborough said, "Be careful here, Buchanan." Chris Matthews added, "Go the other way. You're in the danger area. ... You're in the danger area, Pat, take my advice."
Several media outlets have reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign justified refusing to release Cindy McCain's tax returns by citing Sen. John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as "precedent." But they did not report that, in contrast with Cindy McCain, Heinz Kerry did release a part of her 2003 income tax return that showed "total income," which enabled The New York Times to analyze how she benefited from the Bush tax cuts. Such an analysis of how the McCains have benefited from the tax cuts -- which Sen. McCain supports extending permanently -- is not possible, based on the information his campaign has released on Cindy McCain's income.
MSNBC's David Shuster asserted that "[Sen. John] McCain also made clear he will continue to insist that Barack Obama stay in the public financing system for the general election as he promised," adding that the issue "could help McCain tarnish the image of Obama's political purity." But Shuster did not mention that McCain may be violating campaign finance laws by surpassing spending limits under the public financing system for the primary period.
In an article on Sen. John McCain's economic proposals, The Wall Street Journal reported that McCain "famously opposed President Bush's tax cuts a few years ago, saying they would irresponsibly swell the budget deficit." But, while that is the reason McCain now gives for having previously opposed the tax cuts, it was not the reason he gave in a 2001 floor statement explaining his opposition, in which he criticized the tax cuts for disproportionately benefiting the wealthy.
Blog posts by The New York Times and washingtonpost.com both reported on the Democratic National Committee's announcement that it would be filing a lawsuit to force the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate Sen. John McCain's unilateral withdrawal from the federal public financing system for the primary election, but neither noted that FEC chairman David Mason has taken the position that McCain cannot opt out of public financing in the primary without FEC approval.
The Politico's Jonathan Martin asserted as "fact" that Al Gore and John Kerry "were elitists and were out of touch with average Americans." But to the extent the public perceived them in that manner, the media played a dominant role in creating and promoting that perception while largely avoiding discussion of whether President Bush was an "elitist."
A Gannett News Service analysis reported on Sen. John McCain's response to television ads by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign that criticized McCain "for being AWOL on the nation's economic challenges," stating: "McCain immediately fired back in videos ... that characterized the Democrats as proposing to tax the country out of its economic woes." However, the piece did not mention that the key assertion in McCain's ad is false.
On Morning Joe, Tim Russert asserted, "I remember I asked the candidates in a debate last fall whether they would pledge to have all troops out within their first four years. None of them would make the pledge. By the last debate in Cleveland, both [Sens. Barack] Obama and [Hillary] Clinton were saying, 'Oh no, we'll have them out by '09.' " In fact, neither candidate said during the Cleveland debate that he or she would withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by 2009. During the "debate last fall," they talked about beginning withdrawal as soon as possible, while leaving troops to perform certain functions after the withdrawal is complete, and Russert himself stated during the Cleveland debate that both candidates have said they would "keep a residual force" in Iraq.