This time from an update posted at washingtonpost.com, headlined, "Palin Defends 'Bridge to Nowhere' Claims."
If only that were the case. Rather than Palin defending her Bridge claim by actually engaging with reporters about the issue, readers discover that Palin on Tuesday simply repeated, yet again, that she opposed Alaska's infamous Bridge to Nowhere. In truth, she did not.
But you know what? She's going to make that claim on Wednesday and Thursday, too. That's not going to be a case of Palin defending her Bridge claim, that will be Palin simply regurgitating her Bridge claim. The press ought to distinguish between the two.
On NPR, Renee Montagne asked Juan Williams of Gov. Sarah Palin's claims about the "bridge to nowhere": "Is it surprising that she keeps saying that, or repeating that she told Congress, 'No thanks,' on that bridge?" Rather than note that Palin's assertion is false, Williams responded in part by saying: "Well, what they're [the McCain campaign] emphasizing is that she, you know, did eventually turn down the idea without disclosing that early on she was, as you said, campaigning for it back in 2006. ... So, it's a matter of, you know, omission in their view."
FDL offers a glimpse of the Palin interview:
Questions that will NOT be asked:
(1) Why are you refusing to testify in an investigation of abuse of power now when you promised to testify before?
(2) Why did you inquire into your ability to ban books when you were Mayor?
(3) What books did you want to ban?
(4) Do you believe in the Theory of Evolution? Why or why not?
Yglesias says narratives, not one-off factchecks, are what matters -- and that the media hasn't assigned negative narratives to McCain as readily as they have to Democrats. He's right.
"Serious caveats." That's what the Journal news team claims must be attached to Palin's suggestion that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere. For us, that still seems like weak language given the facts of Palin's support for the infamous bridge.
America's Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer failed to challenge Republican strategist Andrea Tantaros' false claims that "[Sen.] Barack Obama has not authored a single piece of legislation" and that "Barack Obama has dealt with zero foreign policy." In fact, Obama has sponsored or been a key co-sponsor of numerous bills, including an initiative to secure unguarded weapons stockpiles in foreign countries.
On Studio B, Carl Cameron said, "Fifty-eight days before the elections, and the Obama campaign is accusing the McCainiacs of lying about this 'bridge to nowhere' issue." He went on to claim of Gov. Sarah Palin, "Now, she didn't ask for the bridge, nor did she ask for the money. ... [W]hen people say, 'Sarah Palin asked for earmark money or pork,' it's just inaccurate." In fact, in an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Palin wrote that in 2008, her administration "requested 31 earmarks, down from 54 in 2007" and that "the federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship."
Investor's Business Daily wrote in an editorial: "Does Barack Obama owe his meteoric rise to an Israeli-hating adviser to a Saudi billionaire? Why did a race-baiting mentor to the Black Panthers favor this yet unknown community organizer?" IBD noted that former Manhattan borough president Percy Sutton claimed that he was introduced to Obama by "a friend raising money for him," that the purported friend, Khalid al-Mansour, asked Sutton to "write a letter in support of Obama's application to Harvard law school." But IBD did not note that the Obama campaign has denied the story or that al-Mansour has said that he has never met Obama and did not ask Sutton to write a letter on Obama's behalf.
And how "she was mauled, minimized and manhandled by an openly skeptical media establishment." Daily Howler points out Kurtz' proof for said mauling it pretty thin.
In an RNC speech, former Sen. Fred Thompson said of Sen. John McCain, "[B]eing a POW doesn't qualify anyone to be president. But it does reveal character." Similarly, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, in a July appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, told host Bob Schieffer that McCain was "a hero," and that "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war," but that "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." But while Schieffer suggested in July that Clark "denigrate[d]" and "attack[ed]" McCain's "military service," he did not ask McCain about Thompson's remarks during a September 7 interview on Face the Nation.
A Tulsa World article uncritically quoted Sen. James Inhofe stating, "I am not questioning Sen. [Barack] Obama's patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin." The article failed to note that Obama is not "opposed" to "wearing an American flag lapel pin" or that Sen. John McCain reportedly said he doesn't wear a flag lapel pin on a daily basis.
Obama Nation author Jerome Corsi asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign "failed to prove a single falsehood contained in pages of the book." Corsi then went on to provide a list of 11 "corrections to the next printing of The Obama Nation" -- many of which correct falsehoods documented by the Obama campaign or Media Matters.
On September 6, Fox News' America's Election HQ aired numerous reports documenting claims by Republicans and the McCain campaign that they "rescued" American flags that were going to be "disposed of" by the Democrats after their convention at Invesco Field. But during the reports, Fox News gave no indication that it had sought to contact a Democratic Party official or Obama campaign spokesperson for comment, and only reported a Democratic response hours after it began reporting the Republican claims.
During an online discussion yesterday, Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman downplayed the significance of John McCain voting with George Bush 90 percent of the time. As Media Matters explained, Weisman's comments demonstrated an apparent lack of understanding how that statistic was determined.
But that wasn't the only mistake Weisman made during the discussion. Here's how he responded to a comment about the media's role in the 2000 election:
2000 Debates: Are actually one of the most interesting moments for media criticism. Following the debates the media and the public generally believed Gore had trampled Bush. But the next morning GOP operatives started pushing around the "Sighs" and other purported Gore gaffes and that became the new reality. These guys haven't been in power for 26 of the last 28 years because they don't know how to alter reality.
Jonathan Weisman: I disagree. I was at those debates, and when Al Gore started badgering Bush on his position on "Dingell-Ganske," I knew all hope was lost. That was a reference, by the way, to the Patients Bill of Rights, not that 99 percent of Americans had a clue what he was talking about.
Weisman's response has several flaws:
First, Weisman can disagree all he wants, but the fact is that the commenter was correct: the instant polls taken immediately after the first debate in 2000 found that viewers thought Gore won them, as Bob Somerby explained. It was only after the media worked themselves into a nit-picking frenzy about Gore's supposed sighs - sighs that hadn't bothered real-time viewers -- that opinion shifted. Disagreeing with that is disagreeing with objective reality.
Second, The commenter mentioned the media's fixation on Gore's "sighs"; Weisman responded by pointing to Gore's references to "Dingell-Ganske." Problem is, the sighs came in the first debate; the references to the Patients Bill of Rights came in the last debate. It should be obvious that something that happened during the last debate can't explain away the press's effect on public opinion immediately following the first debate.
Third, It wasn't "Dingell-Ganske." It was Dingell-Norwood.
Finally, Weisman's snide comment about Gore "badgering" Bush about Dingell-Norwood (not Ganske) is wrong in a variety of ways.
To start with: If 99 percent of the viewing audience didn't know what Gore was talking about when he mentioned Dingell-Norwood, they must not have been paying much attention. Gore didn't, as Weisman suggests, simply refer to "Dingell-Norwood" and expect the audience to know what he was talking about. He explained what it was. Repeatedly.
The very first time Gore said the words "Dingell-Norwood," it came at the end of an answer - an answer that began with Gore using the phrase "Patients Bill of Rights." He then explained the need for it, and then, at the end, he referred to it as "Dingell-Norwood." And this was in response to the very first question. If the audience - or, to be more precise, Jonathan Weisman - didn't understand what Gore was talking about when he referred to the bill as "Dingell-Norwood," it simply means they hadn't been paying attention at all.
Why did Gore refer to it as Dingell-Norwood?
This is actually really simple: George W. Bush was running around also claiming to support a "Patients Bill of Rights." By invoking a specific piece of bipartisan legislation - the bill sponsored by Representatives Dingell and Norwood - that Bush did not support, Gore was trying to prevent Bush from pretending there was no difference between the two candidates.
And that's just what Bush did in his response to Gore. Here's the end of Gore's answer: "I support a strong national patient's bill of rights. It is actually a disagreement between us, a national law that is pending on this, the Dingle-Norwood bill, a bipartisan bill, is one that I support and that the governor does not."
And here's how Bush responded: "Actually, Mr. Vice President, it's not true. I do support a national patient's bill of rights."
After Bush was finished, moderator Jim Lehrer said to Gore: "would you agree that you two agree on a national patient's bill of rights?"
That's why Gore made clear that he was talking about Dingell-Norwood: Bush was trying to pretend the two candidates agreed on a patients bill of rights, and the media was going along with that nonsense - in this case, via debate moderator Jim Lehrer who explicitly (and falsely) took Bush's side.
So Gore had to respond to Lehrer: "Absolutely not. I referred to the Dingell-Norwood bill. It is the bipartisan bill that is now pending in the Congress. The HMOs and the insurance companies support the other bill that's pending, the one that the Republican majority has put forward. ... I specifically would like to know whether Governor Bush will support the Dingle-Norwood bill, which is the main one pending."
Here's what had happened at this point in the exchange: Gore had explained that he supported a specific piece of patients' rights legislation - Dingell-Norwood. Bush had responded broadly, saying he supported a patients rights bill - but not saying which one. Lehrer had then asserted that the candidates agreed on the matter, leading Gore to point out that they did not - that Bush had not yet said whether he supported specific legislation. And Gore then asked Bush directly whether he supported that legislation.
So what did Jim Lehrer do? He told Bush "Governor Bush, you may answer that if you'd like."
After Bush had falsely suggested that the two candidates agreed on the matter, Gore asked a simple question, the answer to which would make clear whether they really did. And Jim Lehrer told Bush he could answer - if he wanted to. That's nothing short of malpractice by Lehrer. Incidentally, Jim Lehrer will moderate the first of this year's presidential debates in three weeks.
Bush took the out Lehrer gave him, and offered yet another vague response that didn't answer the basic question of whether he supported the specific legislation at hand. So Gore asked him again.
That's the "badgering" Weisman describes: Moderator Jim Lehrer refused to do his job; instead, he falsely helped Bush try to fool viewers into thinking the two candidates agreed. So Gore asked Bush a simple and direct question - a simple and direct question that Bush didn't answer. So Gore asked it again.
And that's why Gore referred to the bill as "Dingell-Norwood" -- because Bush (and Lehrer) were pretending that supporting any bill was the same thing as supporting the bill.
The media's failure in all this should be obvious: Lehrer's job was to clarify, not muddy the waters - a job he simply refused to do, preferring to help Bush avoid getting pinned down on his position on one of the central issues of the campaign. Any reasonably thoughtful person would probably assume that media coverage of that exchange would focus on Bush's refusal to say one way or another whether he supported the bill. Instead, as Weisman's comments demonstrate, they mocked Gore for wanting to know whether Bush supported it.
So, back to Weisman.
In Jonathan Weisman's telling, Gore "badgered" Bush. The transcript makes clear that he did not; that the noteworthy part of the exchange is Bush's refusal to tell the American people where he stood on a key issue - and Jim Lehrer's jaw-droppingly incompetent performance.
In Jonathan Weisman's telling, viewers had no idea what Gore meant when he said "Dingell-Ganske." In reality, Gore had referred to "Dingell-Norwood," and had explained quite clearly what that was.
And in Jonathan Weisman's telling, this is why people thought Gore did poorly in the debates - even though this exchange came in the last debate, after the media narrative about Gore's poor performances had already taken hold.
Now, here's why this matters; why this is more than historical trivia. Jonathan Weisman covers politics for one of the nation's most influential newspapers. He covers, among other things, the current presidential campaign. And apparently has no idea - none at all -- how the media affected the 2000 presidential campaign. If he doesn't understand what his profession did wrong then, how is he to avoid making the same mistakes this time? This is a point Bob Somerby makes regularly, and he's right: until people understand what happened in 2000, there's no reason to think it will stop happening.
On CBS' The Early Show, Maggie Rodriguez did not challenge McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt's claim that "Senator [Barack] Obama has a plan to raise" taxes, even though McCain's own chief economic adviser has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say "Barack Obama raises taxes." Rodriguez did not point out that, in fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families and raising them only on households earning more than $250,000 per year.