Issues ››› Elections
  • Despite long history of political "lipstick" references, AP's Pickler linked Obama's to Palin's


    The AP's Nedra Pickler wrote that "lipstick" has become "a political buzzword, thanks to" Gov. Sarah Palin's "joke in her acceptance speech that lipstick is the only thing that separates a hockey mom like her from a pit bull," and suggested that therefore Palin's joke had something to do with Sen. Barack Obama's reference to "lipstick on a pig." Yet Obama had previously used the expression in this campaign -- before Palin's reference to lipstick at the RNC -- and as Pickler noted in the same article, Sen. John McCain himself has used it. Indeed, the expression, and similar ones, has been used by politicians for years.

  • Hemmer on Fox News' treatment of Obama's faith: "No one here is promulgating untrue rumors about anyone's faith"


    On America's Newsroom, in response to Sen. Barack Obama's statement that false rumors are "being promulgated on Fox News" about his purported "Muslim connections," Bill Hemmer asserted that "[n]o one here is promulgating untrue rumors about anyone's faith." In fact, Fox News hosts have repeatedly promoted false reports about Obama's religion, including the false report that Obama was educated in a madrassa.

  • CNN's Foreman falsely claimed McCain was "getting Barack Obama's record right" on military spending

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    CNN's Tom Foreman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain was "getting Barack Obama's record right" when McCain claimed that "during the primary" Obama told the group Caucus4Priorities "that he would cut defense spending by tens of billions of dollars"; Foreman also falsely suggested that Obama has only recently begun to advocate "increasing the size" of the military. In fact, Obama told Caucus4Priorities that he would cut "tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending," not overall defense spending, and Obama repeatedly said during the primary season that he would increase the size of the military.

  • MSNBC's Brewer aired McCain attack ad without noting its falsehoods

    ››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

    Contessa Brewer aired a clip of a McCain campaign ad without noting that the clip falsely suggests that Sen. Barack Obama was behind "attacks on Governor [Sarah] Palin" that have been called "completely false" and "misleading" by FactCheck.org. In fact, while FactCheck.org stated that many "dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages" about Palin are "completely false, or misleading," it made no reference to the Obama campaign. Further, Brewer did not note that the Obama campaign has reportedly denied the ad's second claim, that "Obama airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin."

  • Fox's Cameron: Obama "run[s] the risk of appearing a little bit arrogant" if he doesn't offer "lipstick on a pig" apology

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Fox News' Carl Cameron claimed that Sen. Barack Obama "run[s] the risk of appearing a little bit arrogant" if he doesn't offer an apology for his "lipstick on a pig" comment. Cameron made the comment even though he twice stated during the program that the McCain campaign's complaints about Obama's comment may amount to "crocodile tears."

  • KSFO's Sussman suggested Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment may be his Muslim father's "genetic DNA welling up inside of him"

    ››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

    On The Lee Rodgers Show, a caller suggested that Sen. Barack Obama's remark that "you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" was directed at Gov. Sarah Palin and said: "[I]t's a little indicative of a Muslim attitude towards women that's creeping up, you know, and he just can't help but say it, how he feels." Brian Sussman responded: "Well, there's no question that Muslims, at least the religious ones, look at women as second-class citizens. ... I don't know if it was his father's genetic DNA welling up inside of him or not, but I'll tell you something: It was stupid."

  • NBC Washington bureau chief discussed McCain campaign's, but not media's, ability to "driv[e] the news cycle"*

    ››› ››› MEREDITH ADAMS

    NBC News Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said that the controversy over Sen. Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment "seems like a frivolous story" but it is "important to watch" because it's an example of "how good the McCain campaign is at ... driving the news cycle day after day." He did not acknowledge the media's responsibility in choosing what they cover.*

  • Fox's Garrett uncritically quoted from McCain ad mischaracterizing Obama's position on sex education

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News' Major Garrett uncritically quoted a portion of an ad by Sen. John McCain's campaign that claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's biggest accomplishment on education was teaching "comprehensive sex education to kindergartners." Garrett gave no explanation of Obama's actual position on sex education, provided no response from the Obama campaign, and gave no indication that he had sought such a response, nor did Garrett note that the bill Obama supported would have required school sexual education programs to give "age and developmentally appropriate" materials and instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and included material warning children about sexual predators.

  • Infrastructure

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Ezra Klein:

    The Times and the Post will repeat the McCain camp's petty lies and slams without an ounce of critical analysis, not because they believe the spin, but because there's a massive conservative infrastructure devoting to working the refs and getting the coverage the right wants. Try as David Brock and John Podesta may, Media Matters and Think Progress just don't have the same level of influence. I absolutely guarantee that if the Ron Fournier situation were reversed - if the AP Washington Bureau were run by a shameless Democratic hack instead of a GOP hack like Fournier - there'd be hell to pay. Howls of "liberal media bias" would be echoing across every talk radio station, the major conservative blogs, Fox News, and into the mailboxes, real and virtual, of every Republican voter. The bureau chief would be gone or tamed within a week or two. As it currently stands, Fournier still has his job, and he's still doing it as badly as you'd expect. Liberals just aren't as good at ref intimidation.

    Part of the reason why this is true is that the Right realizes that it isn't enough for the Media Research Center and Accuracy In Media and the Heritage Foundation to engage in media criticism. They all do it; it's a staple of the entire conservative movement. So the refs get worked every day, by a wide variety of people -- from local activists to the President of the United States. The Republicans are all media critics.

    Progressives understand this much better than they did a few years ago, but there's a long way to go. (Ezra Klein is doing his part: his writing about the media's coverage of the presidential campaign has been excellent lately.)

  • Choices

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER


    Media entities could have had an internal conversation along the lines of: "This is stupid; let's cover the education stuff." Instead, news outlets are either giving McCain evil-genuis points for turning a nothing into a something, or are calling out the McCain campaign for being mean and duplicitous, but in any event, voters on the periphery of the conversation only hear enough to hear the accusations anyway.

    Right. The important thing to remember is that nobody is forcing journalists to behave this way. They choose to do so. They choose to behave in a way that benefits stupid and dishonest claims.

    And they can choose to stop. Or they can choose to continue. But either way, they're making a choice.

  • Fox News' Cameron uncritically reported on McCain ad without noting DNC had denied allegations

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    On Fox News, Carl Cameron reported that a McCain campaign ad "will attack the Obama campaign for having sent what it will call a small army of lawyers into Alaska to smear Sarah Palin." But Cameron gave no indication that he had sought any comment from the Obama campaign nor did he note that the DNC has reportedly said the assertion is false and that neither the DNC nor the Obama campaign has sent anyone to Alaska to do research.

  • Scarborough: Media will talk about "[w]hatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive"


    After likening cable TV to "a 500-pound guy looking for a 100-pound burro to get on" and then "rides it until it dies," Chris Matthews said to Joe Scarborough, "I want to ask you, what will we talk about two days from now?" Scarborough replied: "Whatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive."

  • Citing no evidence, AP's Pickler purported to know how audience interpreted Obama's remark


    In an article regarding Sen. Barack Obama's recent comment about Sen. John McCain's policies -- "[Y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" -- AP's Nedra Pickler baselessly asserted that Obama's audience "clearly dr[ew] a connection to [Gov. Sarah] Palin's joke even if it's not what Obama meant." However, Pickler provided no evidence for her assessment of the audience's reaction, and, indeed, the interpretation by New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny of the audience's reaction was completely different.