In the absence of any allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, media figures continue to warn that a "cloud" hangs over Obama or assert that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.
On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity repeated the baseless claim that "the Obamas pa[id] $300,000 below market value" for their house. Additionally, after recounting that the Obamas purchased land from the adjacent lot owned by Antoin Rezko, Hannity asserted: "And then, as state senator, he helped funnel money to these housing projects that Tony Rezko and other friends were working on." In fact, Obama's letter in support of a Rezko housing project was written seven years before the Obamas purchased their home, and both parties have reportedly said that Rezko did not solicit the letter.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade echoed a false assertion made in a December 11 AP article by claiming that President-elect Barack Obama said, "I'm confident nobody on my staff talked on my behalf when it comes to filling my seat." The AP had reported falsely that "President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday he didn't discuss his vacant Senate seat with disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and said he's confident nobody on his staff did either." In fact, during a December 11 press conference, Obama did not claim that nobody on his staff "talked on his behalf" to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich; rather, he stated, "I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat."
On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity asserted that "the word 'president-elect' was mentioned ... 44 times" in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which, Hannity said, "is a pretty high, high number." Hannity had previously described the number of mentions of the word "president-elect" in the complaint as "pretty troubling." In fact, with one exception, none of the 44 instances in which "president-elect" was used in the complaint actually mentioned any alleged conduct or statement by President-elect Barack Obama, much less any conduct or statement amounting to wrongdoing. The one exception was an allegation that Blagojevich complained that Obama would not give him anything other than "appreciation."
In the absence of any actual allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several media figures have in recent days ominously asserted that a "cloud" hangs over Obama because of the Blagojevich scandal, or that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.
CNN's Drew Griffin misrepresented President-elect Barack Obama's response to the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, falsely suggesting that Obama disputes allegations made in the complaint. In fact, there are no allegations regarding Obama in the complaint for him to deny, as U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald made clear when he stated that the complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever."
On The Radio Factor, John Kass falsely claimed that Rita Rezko, wife of Antoin Rezko, "b[ought] the Obama dream house" in what Kass called "that shady real estate deal." In addition, Kass, who was also featured on ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News in reports about the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, suggested to Bill O'Reilly that President-elect Barack Obama must be tainted by corruption because he comes from Chicago.
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
The headline of a Washington Times article about the implications of the charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich baselessly asserted: "Scandal casts cloud over Obama presidency." In fact, the article itself noted that "[a]uthorities stressed that Mr. Obama was not involved in the far-flung corruption probe" and that U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald "told reporters, '[t]he complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever.' "
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
Politico's Ben Smith contrasted President-elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush's church attendance in the weeks after their elections, but Smith failed to note numerous reports of Bush's infrequent church attendance over the past eight years, as well as Bush's reported lack of membership in a Washington, D.C., congregation. Smith cited another Politico article that also ignored reports about Bush's church attendance.
On MSNBC Live, Washington Examiner correspondent Julie Mason asserted that the "liberal left" was "up in arms about Robert Gates staying on at the Defense Department, and some of these other picks, and even -- even the pick of Hillary Clinton at the State Department." But neither Mason nor anchor Alex Witt mentioned that a recent poll showed strong support among Democrats for President-elect Barack Obama's selections of Gates and Clinton.
The Washington Times uncritically reported a claim by Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg, as stated in an ad Berg placed in the newspaper, that the birth certificate released by Barack Obama's campaign has "clearly been altered." The Times did not note that FactCheck.org reported that it has "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate," concluding that it "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship," nor did it note a statement by Health Department director Chiyome Fukino that "the Hawai'i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."
Several media figures are promoting the notion of division among Obama supporters, asserting that "the left" is or should be disappointed with the president-elect's Cabinet selections. But the idea of significant disappointment with Obama runs counter to a USA Today/Gallup poll finding that 94 percent of Democrats "approve of the way Obama is handling his presidential transition."