During separate interviews on NBC's Nightly News and Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama was a community organizer when Gov. Sarah Palin was in elected office. Neither NBC's Brian Williams nor Fox's Chris Wallace noted that McCain's claim is false. In fact, Palin was an undergraduate at the University of Idaho when Obama was a community organizer.
All three network evening newscasts misrepresented retired Gen. Wesley Clark's comments about Sen. John McCain on Face The Nation, with none noting that Clark praised McCain as a "hero" for his Vietnam war service. ABC's David Wright asserted that McCain's experience as a POW made Clark's comments "especially provocative." CBS' Dean Reynolds falsely suggested that Clark had questioned McCain's patriotism and had "critici[zed]" McCain's "service, including five years as a POW." And NBC's Brian Williams falsely suggested that Clark had impugned McCain's "war record."
On Meet the Press, host Brian Williams allowed Sen. Lindsey Graham to crop an answer Sen. Barack Obama gave on a Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire about whether he would commit to public financing for the general election if his opponent did so. While Graham read the question and beginning of Obama's answer aloud, neither he nor Williams noted that Obama concluded his answer by saying he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election," which the Obama campaign maintains he did before determining an agreement with the McCain campaign was unreachable.
NBC's Brian Williams offered no challenge to assertions by Sen. John McCain that Sen. Barack Obama has a proposal to "raise spending by $1.4 trillion over five years, and no way to pay for his programs" and that he -- McCain -- has "a plan to balance the budget." Williams did not ask McCain how he planned to pay for his proposals; nor did he note that economists and nonpartisan analysts reportedly say that McCain's proposal for numerous tax cuts would bloat the deficit or require huge spending cuts.
On NBC's Nightly News, Brian Williams said that the Bush administration's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species was a "huge milestone." But neither he nor the Nightly News report on the subject mentioned that the "milestone" comes after environmental groups twice sued the administration to make a listing decision -- and just one day before a court-ordered deadline to make a final decision on the polar bear's status.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams stated that the Republicans "left the House chamber to protest the Democrats' refusal to renew the foreign intelligence surveillance law, which expires this week." In fact, the House voted on a measure to extend the law in question, the Protect America Act, for another 21 days, but all 195 Republicans who voted on the matter voted against it. Moreover, the "foreign intelligence surveillance law" doesn't expire this week; the Protect America Act, giving the president broad authority to intercept communications involving people in the U.S. without a warrant, expires. Even without its renewal, the government has the authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance.
On January 2, despite numerous references on NBC's Nightly News to Mike Huckabee's appearance later that night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, no one noted that Huckabee would be crossing a picket line in making the appearance.
ABC's World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News reported that the death toll for U.S. service members in Iraq was down in July. But none of the programs noted at the time that U.S. troop death numbers for July, while lower than previous months, meant that this July was the deadliest July of the war. And none of the programs have reported the fact that the current number of troops killed in Iraq for the months of June, July, and August makes the summer of 2007 the bloodiest summer of the war for American soldiers.
In their reports on subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee over the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, media outlets uncritically quoted the White House claim that "[i]t's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation" to suggest that Democrats were solely responsible for the committee's action. In fact, three Republicans voted with the Democrats to approve the subpoenas.