Last week, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that hinders enforcement of federal light bulb efficiency standards that were signed into law by President Bush in 2007. Conservative media have repeatedly misled consumers about the standards, and now ABC's flagship nightly news program is adding to the misinformation.
On ABC World News, Diane Sawyer called the measure "a small victory ... for those who like their light bulbs the old-fashioned way." Jonathan Karl suggested that the "light bulb ban" would require consumers to buy "new bulbs [that] are funny looking, dimmer and more expensive."
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
From the April 6 edition of ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer:
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Media reports have repeatedly clouded the health care reform debate by uncritically reporting on false claims that the Senate health care bill provides federal funding for abortion beyond the limited cases allowed by current law: rape, incest, and conditions that endanger the life of the pregnant woman.
In a December 9 report, ABC correspondent David Wright advanced misleading claims about the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, including the claim that the emails show scientists using a "trick to hide the decline in temperatures" and that a scientist called it a "travesty" that they couldn't explain a temporary lack of warming. Wright also misleadingly cropped Jon Stewart's comments on the emails, removing Stewart's statement that "of course" the information contained in the emails doesn't "disprove" global warming.
Following Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to hold criminal trials for five Guantánamo detainees, nightly news broadcasts on NBC and ABC have reported on conservative criticism of the move but ignored the endorsement of numerous conservative scholars and officials, including Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, American Conservative Union chairman David Keene, and former Reps. Barry Goldwater Jr. (R-CA) and Bob Barr (R-GA). Indeed, a Media Matters for America review of nightly news broadcasts from November 13 through 17 found that neither network reported on the prominent conservatives that support criminal trials for terror suspects.
From the September 9th edition of ABC's World News:
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Following President Obama's comments at an August 11 town hall that "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare," ABC News' Jake Tapper and Fox News' Bill Hemmer reported that Obama was incorrect and that the AARP hadn't endorsed any specific bill. However, while the AARP did release a statement saying it hadn't endorsed a bill, it also praised Obama's "insistence that any final reform package will not reduce Medicare benefits," which neither Tapper nor Hemmer reported; moreover, Tapper and Hemmer did not note that the group has previously praised the House tri-committee bill.
Four evening news programs uncritically aired discredited claims Dick Cheney made suggesting that detainees provided information after -- and only after -- "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used.
Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson both falsely claimed that "no member" of Congress wanted detainees from Guantánamo Bay transferred to prisons in their districts. In fact, at least two have made such an offer.
Brian Williams reported that "The New York Times led the way with five [Pulitzer Prizes], including awards for breaking news and international reporting" but did not note that the Times' David Barstow won for his reporting on the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries.
Despite jumping on -- and in some cases advancing -- false Republican claims that congressional Democrats are responsible for AIG executive bonuses, major media outlets have yet to report that a Bush-appointed special inspector general for TARP confirmed in congressional testimony that the Bush administration Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money.
Many in the media have proclaimed the GOP the winner in the "stimulus message war" over President Obama and congressional Democrats. But they often do so with no self-reflection or acknowledgment of their cohort's role in advancing the Republicans' side in the debate through the credulous repetition of falsehoods and other Republican talking points.
Interviewing President Obama, ABC's Charles Gibson repeated assertions that "not enough" of the economic recovery package before Congress "is really stimulative," that the bill "really doesn't stimulate," and that "it's a spending bill and not a stimulus." But according to the director of the Congressional Budget Office, "most economists" believe "all of the increase in government spending" included in the bill "provides some stimulative effect." The CBO director has further stated that the bill "would provide massive fiscal stimulus."
On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects.