In discussions and reports on the New Hampshire primaries, numerous media outlets and personalities praised Sen. John McCain as authentic, real, exhibiting "flinty independence," and a "maverick," and described him as "Mr. Straight Talk."
During MSNBC's coverage of the New Hampshire Primary, Hardball host Chris Matthews said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's performance during a January 5 Democratic presidential candidates debate: "I wasn't clear at all that she won it. But maybe she was good enough to seem good enough here for women who wanted to root for her anyway." He further stated that the 2008 presidential election is "a pioneer opportunity for women voting -- especially older women voting, who may figure this is their last chance to elect a woman president."
Previewing the January 5 presidential debates, MSNBC's Chris Matthews discussed what he said would be "a good question" to ask candidates, such as one that would force the candidates to "choose between Latino voters who want more of an open border and the other voters ... who definitely don't want that kind of an open border." Yet, while Matthews did not offer any examples of "Latino voters who want more of an open border," in fact, a number of national and regional Latino groups have specifically rejected the idea of "open borders" while advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, as have members of Congress representing states and districts with large Latino constituencies.
On Countdown, Keith Olbermann named Bill O'Reilly the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for saying that John Edwards "has no clue" regarding Edwards' statement that "tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates."
The New York Times and the Politico's Ben Smith misreported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's emotional remarks during a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Times reported that Clinton said, in part, "I have so many ideas for this country, I just don't want to see us fall backwards," while Smith reported that Clinton said: "I have so many opportunities for this country. I don't want to see us all fall back" [emphases added]. In fact, Clinton said, "You know, I have so many opportunities from this country" [emphasis added].
During the ABC News-Facebook debate, co-moderator Scott Spradling invited the Republican presidential candidates to openly criticize a Democratic candidate, asking them, "[W]hy not vote for [Sen.] Barack Obama" if he were the Democratic presidential nominee. However, neither he nor ABC News' Charlie Gibson offered a similar opportunity to the Democratic candidates.
During ABC News' coverage of the ABC News-Facebook debates, correspondent Bianna Golodryga asserted that the fact that 66 percent of respondents answered yes when asked, "Could a Democratic president keep America safe?" "surprised us." But she did not say why those results were "surpris[ing]." Other media figures have previously asserted that Republicans have an advantage on issues of national security and terrorism, despite polls showing Democrats either tied or at a slight advantage against Republicans on that issue.
On January 5, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported that Sen. John McCain "told employees at BAE Systems that [Mitt] Romney's loss [in the Iowa caucuses] was due to his negative campaigning." In another January 5 article, the Union Leader reported McCain's assertion that "negative ads don't work." While both articles noted that Romney has been running negative ads "suggesting McCain supports amnesty because of his earlier support for a bipartisan immigration bill," neither article mentioned that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Romney including one his campaign released the same day McCain spoke to BAE Systems employees.
On MSNBC Live, anchor Alex Witt claimed that Rudy Giuliani "is spending very little time and even less money in Iowa and New Hampshire, opting instead to stake his claim on the later states." Later, The New York Sun's Nicholas Wapshott agreed, saying, "Well, he really, as you say, he barely attempted to go" to Iowa. In fact, in June 2007, Giuliani's campaign manager said: "We are 100 percent committed to winning Iowa and I believe we will do so."
On Hardball, Chris Matthews again used violent imagery to portray Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, asking, "[W]hat does she do with the body? How does she get rid of a Barack Obama if she ever gets to beat him?" Matthews has previously asked, "Is the Hillary Clinton campaign trying to obliterate Obama's candidacy? Not just beat it, but strangle it in the crib before there's any chance he catches on?" Other media figures have also portrayed Clinton and her aides as violent or ruthless, including Maureen Dowd who once wrote that Clinton, like Tony Soprano, "is so power-hungry that she can justify any thuggish means to get the prize."
Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm wrote that two "[Sen. Hillary] Clinton aides" had "told conservative columnist Robert Novak the Clintons had very damaging information on [Sen. Barack] Obama, but they weren't going to use it." However, Novak has acknowledged that his purported "source" for that claim was not involved in the Clinton campaign.
In a New York Post column, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann wrote that Mike Huckabee's "refusal to indulge in negative advertising sent a message to Iowa voters showing his strength under fire." But on Hannity & Colmes, Morris criticized as "a stupid move" Huckabee's actions at a press conference during which Huckabee played an anti-Mitt Romney ad for the assembled media, after stating that he was renouncing negative advertising in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses and had decided not to air the ad.
Numerous print media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's assertion following the Iowa caucuses that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that ... negative campaigns don't work." But none of those articles noted that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Mitt Romney.
On Morning Joe, Chris Matthews asserted that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were to "squeak" out a victory in the Iowa caucuses, she will nonetheless have been "rejected here in Iowa by two-thirds of the Democratic Party." Matthews added that she would be "lucky to get 33 percent" and went on to say that a "low 30 percent" result would represent "a resounding rejection" of Clinton.