Several media outlets have reported that if Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who recently had brain surgery, were "incapacitated" or "unable to serve in any way," that South Dakota's Republican governor would be responsible for selecting his replacement. However, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for circumstances in which an "incapacitated" senator can be replaced.
Media Matters for America has identified six findings in the Iraq Study Group's report that major news outlets have largely overlooked. They include: that the Pentagon has significantly underreported the extent of violence in Iraq, that U.S. officials possess little knowledge about the sources of the ongoing attacks, and that the situation in Afghanistan has grown so dire that U.S. troops may need to be diverted there from Iraq.
CBS' Bob Schieffer baselessly claimed that many of the freshman Democratic House members are "conservative"; Tucker Carlson called newly elected Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler "more conservative than most Republicans in the House." In fact, the Democratic candidates who won Republican-held seats in the November 7 midterm elections, including Shuler, have said they support central issues in the Democratic platform.
Reporting on President Bush's announcement of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation, media outlets, with few exceptions, have avoided characterizing Bush's assertion the previous week that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as a "lie" or intentional misrepresentation -- this, despite Bush's own admission of a deliberate deception. Some outlets even failed to acknowledge Bush's previous statement that Rumsfeld would stay on as defense secretary until the end of his presidency.
On November 6, all three major network evening news broadcasts pointed to "new polling" to assert that the midterm elections are "tightening." In doing so, these outlets ignored several polls released during the same period that indicate the gap between Democrats and Republicans is stable or widening.
Despite the significance of President Bush's November 1 pronouncement that Donald Rumsfeld will remain defense secretary until the end of his presidency, multiple media outlets have devoted much greater attention to the controversy over Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke."
On October 31, the network news led with coverage of the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke," downplaying a story on the U.S. military's accession to an order by Iraqi's prime minister to dismantle checkpoints around Sadr City that were part of an effort to locate a missing U.S. soldier. The Los Angeles Times ran the Kerry story on the front page of its print edition, relegating the story on Sadr City to Page 10.
CBS' Jim Axelrod reported that a White House official told him, "[D]o not expect to see anything significant prior to Election Day" "as far as a significant change" in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and then quoted the official as saying: "You're not going to see anything before November 8th. It would be political suicide, and Karl Rove would never allow it." Axelrod and anchor Katie Couric failed to point out that, as of October 25, the death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq stood at 91 for the month, which sets a pace that would make October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in two years.
In an appearance on the "Free Speech" segment of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that Al Gore "reversed course" on Iraq -- in fact, Gore has consistently opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- and, despite Hannity's own history of politically divisive statements, attributed the country's "divided" state to Democrats.
CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reported on "a thousand 'Patriot Pastors' from conservative churches all across Ohio, who want their congregations out of their pews and in the polling places," claiming that church involvement in politics "may well be a get-out-the-vote effort that could once again be the answer to conservatives' prayers." But Cowan's report did not mention disclosures in a newly released book that the Bush White House has pandered to Christian conservatives for votes while breaking promises on policy and denigrating them behind closed doors.
CBS' Tony Guida reported that "[a] new study of the election by Barron's magazine might encourage Republicans. It concludes the GOP will retain control of both houses." But while saying that "anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment" might trump money this year, Guida did not note inconsistencies in the publication's claims themselves or the publication's clear preference for a GOP victory.