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 New York Times' political blog, The Caucus, reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign "believes" Sen. Barack Obama "reneged on his pledge to accept public financing," and that McCain's campaign "circulated an editorial ... that questioned Mr. Obama's commitment to the public financing system." However, The Caucus did not report that McCain may have violated campaign finance laws by surpassing spending limits under the public financing system for the primary campaign.
A Bloomberg article noted that Sen. John McCain "has pledged to take public financing [for the general election presidential campaign] if the Democrat does. His campaign noted that [Sen. Barack] Obama 'promised the American people' he would take public financing," then quoted a McCain adviser as saying, "Senator McCain isn't in the habit of breaking his word, and he hopes Senator Obama doesn't either." The article did not report that McCain could be breaking federal law for failing to abide by restrictions placed on candidates participating in the public financing system during their party's primary season.
In reporting on whether Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama would accept public funding in a general presidential election, The New York Times and Newsweek did not mention that McCain faces possible fines and jail time for breaking spending limits imposed on candidates participating in the public financing system during the primary.
Fox News' Megyn Kelly echoed a Washington Times column that questioned the legality of an Elton John concert for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, even after the Clinton campaign posted a statement from FEC spokesman Bob Biersack saying he does not believe there is "anything unlawful about Elton John performing in a concert to raise money for a US presidential candidate." Additionally, Lis Wiehl falsely claimed that a 1981 FEC advisory opinion stated that "you couldn't volunteer any time if you're a foreign national."
In a column about an Elton John concert on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, The Washington Times' John McCaslin questioned whether the concert violates federal election law and wrote that FEC spokesman Bob Biersack "said he doesn't know whether the Elton John performance would be considered unlawful by FEC standards." While McCaslin later updated his column, he did not note that, according to the Clinton campaign, Biersack said: "I did not intend to convey ... that there is anything unlawful" about the concert. McCaslin also falsely asserted that a 1981 FEC advisory opinion "prohibited a foreign national artist from donating his services in connection with fundraising for a U.S. Senate campaign."
The Washington Post asserted in a March 27 editorial that Sen. John McCain is a "champion" of "campaign finance reform," despite having stated less than three weeks before that McCain's decision to "deriv[e] some benefit from the matching funds system and then abandon it when that was to his advantage" was "not Mr. McCain's proudest moment as a reformer."
CNN's John King said of campaign donations from the securities and investment industry, "It appears Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are getting the lion's share, but some wonder if that might make them too cozy with the financial services sector should either of them become president." Brian Todd asserted: "Senator Clinton got nearly $6.3 million from donors in the securities and investment industry. ... Senator Obama got just over $6 million. Both dwarf Senator John McCain's take of over $2.5 million." However, Todd ignored the fact that McCain's "take" from the securities and investment industry represents a larger portion of the total contributions he received than Clinton's or Obama's over the same time period.
The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain "has decided not to accept the public matching funds," but that the Federal Election Commission "wants him to assure regulators that he did not use the promise of public money as collateral for [a] loan." The article did not mention that FEC Chairman David Mason has asserted that McCain cannot legally withdraw from the public finance system without FEC approval. Additionally, a Wall Street Journal article did not note that McCain may not be able to opt out of the public financing system.
The Associated Press reported that "[Sen. John] McCain and [Sen. Barack] Obama have bickered over their prior commitment over a general election spending cap should they emerge as their respective party's nominee," without noting that McCain obtained a loan for his campaign in November 2007 that could have required him to stay in the race, regardless of the viability of his campaign, in order to apply for matching funds to pay back the loan.
The New York Times stated in an editorial that Sen. Barack Obama "has backed away from his proposal to run the general election on public funds." In fact, Obama recently confirmed he would "aggressively pursue" an agreement with the Republican nominee on "a publicly funded general election in 2008 with real spending limits."
A post on the MSNBC.com blog First Read stated: "We've noticed today the [Sen. John] McCain/FEC stories -- that McCain very well might have to abide by spending limits before the GOP convention -- are starting to roll in. But why is this only now starting to get more traction, compared with all the stories about [Sen. Barack] Obama waffling on his pledge to accept public funds in the general?" Their question could be asked of Nightly News, which aired a report by Kelly O'Donnell that discussed McCain's criticism of Obama over public financing, but has yet to mention that McCain obtained a loan that involved public financing.
Reporting on Sen. John McCain's "most direct assault yet" against Sen. Barack Obama over "whether Obama would agree to limit campaign spending by accepting public funding for the general election" should he become the Democratic presidential nominee, CNN's Dana Bash noted a "survey from a watchdog group" in which McCain and Obama "both said yes, they'd accept public financing." Bash, however, failed to mention a November 2007 loan agreement and its amendment that could have required McCain to remain an active candidate and apply for federal matching funds in order to repay the loan.
A New York Times article reported that Sen. Barack Obama's fundraising success "has also now put him on the spot, tempting him to back away from indications he gave last year that he would agree to accept public financing in the general election if the Republican nominee did the same. The hesitation has given Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee whose advisers concede he would most likely fall far short of Mr. Obama's fund-raising for the general election, fodder for a series of attacks." However, the article never mentioned the Times' own reporting that the McCain campaign recently waffled on the issue of whether McCain would agree to accept public financing in the general election if his opponent did.
The Associated Press reported that advisers to Sen. John McCain "have said in recent days that he would abide by his proposal" to use public campaign financing if Sen. Barack Obama also agrees to do so. But the AP did not mention that according to The New York Times, days before affirming that "he would abide by his proposal," McCain advisers had said that he would not abide by his proposal and would opt not to use public funds.