ABC's Roberts and Stephanopoulos juxtaposed Michael J. Fox's stem cell ad in MO Senate race with RNC's fearmongering bin Laden ad

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

ABC's Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos juxtaposed actor Michael J. Fox's recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill with the Republican National Committee's (RNC) new advertisement featuring clips of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists making threats against the United States. Roberts claimed Fox's ad is "raising a lot of eyebrows," but she did not note that Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, has endorsed McCaskill because she supports embryonic stem cell research. Introducing the RNC ad, Stephanopoulos asserted that Republicans have a "big card" to play on "terrorism," but recent polling is mixed on whether the public trusts Democrats or Republicans more on dealing with terrorism.

While discussing Democrats' chances of victory in the upcoming midterm elections during the October 24 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host Robin Roberts and ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos juxtaposed actor Michael J. Fox's recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill with the Republican National Committee's (RNC) new advertisement featuring clips of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists making threats against the United States. Introducing the RNC ad, Stephanopoulos asserted that Republicans have a "big card" to play on "terrorism," but neither Stephanopoulos nor Roberts explained that Fox supported McCaskill over her opponent because of their different positions on embryonic stem cell research.

Discussing the ad in which Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, endorses McCaskill for supporting embryonic stem cell research, Roberts claimed the ad is "raising a lot of eyebrows," adding that there was "a big debate about Michael J. Fox" and his involvement in the Senate race in Missouri and elsewhere. After noting the other states where "Michael J. Fox is jumping into races," Stephanopoulos highlighted the RNC's ad, stating: "Meanwhile, Republicans are also trying to play their big card; it's the terrorism card. They are bringing back Osama bin Laden." At no point did either Stephanopoulos or Roberts explain whose "eyebrows" are being "rais[ed]" by Fox's ad, why "there was a big debate about" the ad, or the reason for Fox's endorsement of McCaskill -- because she supports embryonic stem cell research. By contrast, her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent has opposed a proposed Missouri constitutional amendment to legalize stem cell research in the state and voted against easing the restrictions President Bush imposed on federal funding for stem cell research.

Furthermore, contrary to Stephanopoulos's statement that Republicans have a "big card" to play on "terrorism," recent polling is mixed on whether the public trusts Democrats or Republicans more on dealing with terrorism. As Media Matters for America has documented, an October 6-8 CNN poll found that 45 percent of respondents said they thought Democrats "would do a better job" in dealing with terrorism versus 40 percent who indicated a preference for Republicans on that issue. Similarly, an October 6-8 Gallup/USA Today poll also gave Democrats a five-point advantage over Republicans -- 46 percent to 41 percent -- on "who would best handle terrorism"; a Newsweek poll conducted October 5-6 gave Democrats a seven-point advantage -- 44 percent to 37 percent -- on the question of "which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror"; and an October 5-8 ABC News/Washington Post poll gave Democrats a six-point advantage -- 47 percent to 41 percent -- on the question of "which political party" would "do a better job handling [t]he U.S. campaign against terrorism." More recent polling shows that Republicans have gained some ground on this issue. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted October 19-22 found Democrats and Republicans to be statistically tied on the issue, with 44 percent indicating that they "trust[ed]" Democrats to handle the "U.S. campaign against terrorism," and 43 percent preferring Republicans. A CNN poll released October 24 found that 48 percent said they thought Republicans "would do better on terrorism," while 42 percent responded that Democrats "would do better."

As Media Matters previously noted, radio host Rush Limbaugh accused Fox of "exaggerating the effects of the disease" and said either Fox "didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."

From the October 24 edition of ABC News' Good Morning America:

ROBERTS: You bring up Missouri and a big debate about Michael J. Fox, of course, who is suffering from Parkinson's, and he has really gotten into the race there, and raising a lot of eyebrows.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Quite an emotional ad; you'll see Michael J. Fox visibly suffering from the Parkinson's, and he comes out against the Republican candidate Jim Talent.

FOX [video clip]: Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope. They say that all politics is local, but that's not always the case. What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans. Americans like me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not only in Missouri, Michael J. Fox is jumping into races all across the country right now. The Maryland Senate race, the Wisconsin governor's race. He's also going to go up to that race in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Republicans are also trying to play their big card, it's the terrorism card. They are bringing back Osama bin Laden.

[Begin video clip of RNC ad]

STEPHANOPOULOS [voice-over]: You'll see in there that's the Web ad. It's just a Web ad, and they have this ticking clock. Obviously, the idea is, we don't know when he's going to come back, but he is trying.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts
Show/Publication
Good Morning America
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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