On Meet the Press, discussing the New York Times article about Sen. John McCain's relationship with a lobbyist, David Brooks said he "do[esn't] really understand the case" involving McCain and the letters he wrote to the Federal Communications Commission about an issue involving Paxson Communications, then suggested that McCain "only wrote two letters" as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. But the Times reported that McCain sent a series of letters to the FCC in a separate case, including "an unusually blunt letter to the head of the Federal Communications Commission, warning that he would try to overhaul the agency if it closed a broadcast ownership loophole."
While discussing a New York Times article on Sen. John McCain's relationship with a lobbyist, Bill O'Reilly aired a clip of McCain's attorney Robert Bennett defending McCain against the article's allegations, but did not disclose that Bennett represents McCain and was reportedly hired for the explicit purpose of dealing with the controversy.
Discussing reports about Sen. John McCain's ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Pat Buchanan asserted: "I don't have a problem with John McCain writing a letter there, depending on what he says in the letter," adding, "[B]ut McCain shouldn't be denying that, I don't think, because it seems to me that's in the normal course of business of a congressman." But contrary to his description of McCain's actions as "the normal course" for a congressman, the FCC chairman at the time criticized McCain for his request, calling it "highly unusual."
The Chicago Sun-Times uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama is "the most liberal Democrat in the United States Senate." However, the Sun-Times made no mention of the fact that the National Journal, which ranked Obama "the most liberal senator in 2007," said that McCain "did not vote frequently enough in 2007 to draw a composite score."
Bill O'Reilly falsely asserted that the ACLU's lawsuit over the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "was basically an attempt ... to try to overcome a law which was passed by Congress, through the courts." In fact, the ACLU's lawsuit claimed, in part, that the program was in violation of several, as O'Reilly put it, "law[s] ... passed by Congress," including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and asked that the courts enforce those laws by ordering the program shut down.
Robert Novak asserted that "[a] closed-door caucus of House Democrats" had "instructed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call President Bush's bluff on extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to continue eavesdropping on suspected foreign terrorists" and that "Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said there was no danger in letting the FISA legislation lapse temporarily." In fact, FISA did not lapse or expire; what expired was the Protect America Act (PAA), which amended FISA. Additionally, Novak falsely stated that "the Democratic leadership Wednesday brought up another bill simply extending FISA authority, this time for 21 days" and that most of the Democrats who voted against the bill "intuitively oppose any anti-terrorist proposal." In fact, the House voted on an extension to the PAA, not FISA, and most of the Democrats who voted against the extension have supported other bills to allow surveillance of suspected terrorists.
In an "analysis" of Sen. Barack Obama's response to a question about being rated the "most liberal senator" of 2007 by National Journal, FactCheck.org deputy director Viveca Novak claimed that "[t]he nonpartisan public policy magazine's analysis of the votes and the designation of 'liberal' and 'conservative' positions was done according to a rather rigorous process the publication has been using since 1981." In fact, National Journal editor Charles Green has admitted that the publication changed the methodology it had used in its 2003 ratings after it determined that the methodology that resulted in a "most liberal" senator ranking for 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry had been flawed.
The Washington Post's Paul Kane claimed that Sen. John McCain is "using his blanket opposition to earmarked spending as a regular line of attack" against Sen. Hillary Clinton. But in the same article, Kane contradicted his claim that McCain has a policy of "blanket opposition to earmarked spending," reporting: "McCain, who has helped lead efforts to strip some earmarks from Senate bills, has not focused on the money headed to his home state. Other Arizona lawmakers secured more than $214 million in pet projects in fiscal 2008 spending bills."
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan claimed that if Sen. Barack Obama (IL) wins the Democratic presidential nomination, Republicans will "tear him apart because ... he has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate." Buchanan was presumably referencing the National Journal's 2007 vote rankings that claimed Obama was the "most liberal senator in 2007," but he did not mention that the Journal changed its methodology and has acknowledged a flaw in a previous vote rating. Buchanan also did not note a study that ranked Obama as tied with Sen. Joe Biden as the 10th "most liberal" senator last year.
The Washington Post and the Politico both noted the National Journal's rating of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as "the most liberal senator in 2007" without mentioning an admitted flaw in the Journal's 2003 rating of Sen. John Kerry as "the most liberal senator," or that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain did not receive a composite score in 2007 because he "missed more than half of the votes in both the economic and foreign-policy categories."
New York Times columnist Frank Rich mischaracterized Tim Russert's question to Sen. Hillary Clinton during the October 30 Democratic presidential debate regarding a 2002 letter written by former President Bill Clinton to the National Archives and Records Administration. Rich wrote that "Bill Clinton exercised his right to insist that all communications between him and his wife be 'considered for withholding' until 2012," adding, "When Mrs. Clinton was asked by Mr. Russert at an October debate if she would lift that restriction, she again escaped by passing the buck to her husband: 'Well, that's not my decision to make.' " In fact, Russert falsely claimed that Bill Clinton's letter asked that the communications "not be made available to the public until 2012."
On MSNBC Live, Amy Robach and Alex Witt separately aired a campaign ad from Republican presidential candidate John McCain attacking Sen. Hillary Clinton's support for a $1 million earmark for a museum at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival in New York. But Robach, Witt, NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell and Congressional Quarterly's Jonathan Allen all failed to note that McCain had skipped the vote on removing the earmark. Robach and Witt also falsely referred to the advertisement as "new."
Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman falsely claimed during MSNBC's coverage following the January 15 Democratic presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas that Sen. Barack Obama "admitt[ed] that he can't manage his way out of a paper bag while he's running for president of the United States."
In an article on Sen. Hillary Clinton's vote on the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, The New York Times' Eric Lipton suggested that Sen. Chuck Hagel and Clinton took different positions on the resolution. But Hagel, like Clinton, voted for the resolution -- a fact Lipton did not report.