George F. Will falsely claimed that Republican National Committee chairman (RNC) Ken Mehlman "was appalled" by a controversial RNC ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. that critics have characterized as racist. In fact, Mehlman has repeatedly defended the ad as "fair." Will also asserted that the economy "is just objectively good," joined by Time's Jay Carney, who asserted that real wages have been "coming up a little bit lately"; in fact, even though productivity has expanded by 14 percent since November 2001, real hourly wages have remained largely unchanged.
CNN reported a claim by Saddam Hussein's lawyer that the release of the verdict in his trial on charges of crimes against humanity two days before U.S. congressional midterm elections is timed to influence that vote, but CNN did not provide evidence that might lend credence to such an accusation: If true, this would be far from the first time that the Bush administration has timed an Iraq- or national security-related event for political advantage.
A Newsweek article by Mark Hosenball wondered whether "Osama bin Laden [is] going to weigh in on the midterm elections," citing a bin Laden tape released before the 2004 presidential election. But in citing reports that bin Laden wants to be "relevant" to the U.S. electoral process, Hosenball told only part of the story, ignoring evidence that bin Laden's 2004 videotape was intended to assist in the re-election of President Bush.
In an article about Sen. George Allen's attack on James Webb's novels, The New York Times quoted Chris LaCivita and identified him simply as "a consultant for the Allen campaign." In doing so, the Times ignored LaCivita's connections to several controversial Republican front groups, including Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth.
The New York Times' Patrick Healy reported that Sen. Hillary Clinton had said she "would support a gay marriage law in New York" and suggested that she had changed her position from her previous opposition to same-sex marriage -- an account that MSNBC's Chris Jansing echoed. Healy later amended his report to say that Clinton had said she "would not stand against a gay marriage law" and appeared on MSNBC to "correct the record." But he failed to acknowledge that his own flawed original reporting may have led to MSNBC's inaccurate report.
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While discussing a new campaign ad by Rep. Harold Ford Jr., in which Ford appears in a church, Tucker Carlson criticized Ford for "drag[ging] religion into the political arena." He added that "it's wrong, it's immoral, indeed, Democrats have argued, to imply that God's on your side." But Carlson praised an ad by Kinky Friedman, in which Friedman "quot[ed] Jesus from the Gospel of John." Carlson said, "I'm for it."
Responding to criticism of an RNC ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. -- an ad described by former Republican senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen as "overt[ly] racist" -- CNN political analyst Bill Bennett and Ron Christie, former special assistant to President Bush, revived the dubious claim that, in 2002, Maryland Senate candidate and lieutenant governor Michael Steele (R), who is an African-American, "had Oreos thrown at him" by Democrats as a racial insult. In fact, there is significant evidence that calls into question the Oreo cookie claims.
On Fox News, Ann Coulter asserted that Democrats "ought to be picking up 60 or 70 seats" in the House of Representatives in this November's midterm elections or "they may as well go away as a party." Coulter based her assertion about Democratic gains on her false claim that "[t]he average of the midterm election pickup since World War II is about 40 seats." In fact, since World War II, the average gain in the House after a midterm election has been about 25 seats.
ABC News political director Mark Halperin falsely suggested that while progressive 527 organizations with ties to the Democratic Party attacked President Bush during the 2004 election, there were no comparable groups on the right. But one of the most prominent 527 groups in the 2004 election cycle was the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, a group with ties to both the GOP and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign whose attacks on Democratic candidate John Kerry -- which included numerous false and discredited allegations -- received broad coverage in the media.
While it cannot definitively be said that the reason the senior Iraqi court in charge of Saddam Hussein's trial postponed its verdict in the case until two days before the November elections so that it would influence the midterms, the postponement suggests several obvious questions, including, most importantly: Given the Bush administration's history of timing national security-related actions to the political calendar, has the date for the verdict's release been set to provide maximum political benefit for the administration and congressional Republicans?