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.
In reporting on Sunday talk-show appearances by national security adviser Stephen Hadley, several media outlets reported Hadley's characterization of a classified memo from Donald Rumsfeld as simply a "laundry list of ideas" about the U.S. presence in Iraq, and "not a proposal for a new course of action." However, Rumsfeld wrote in the memo, "In my view it is time for a major adjustment"; in the memo, Rumsfeld also created a category of preferred options, with "modest troop withdrawals" among them.
Even though Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate without losing a single seat -- an electoral feat last accomplished in 1938 -- the media have not highlighted this achievement in the two weeks after Election Day. But when Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, the first time since 1934 a president's party had done so during its first midterm election, news outlets praised it as "remarkable" and "historic."
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.
Media figures have attributed Democratic gains in the House and Senate in the midterm elections to the number of wins by conservative or moderate Democratic challengers and have suggested that because the party's victory in the House was purportedly "built on the back of more centrist candidates," the incoming Democratic majority will be sharply divided. However, a Media Matters for America survey of the policy positions of 27 victorious House candidates found that they all agree on a core set of issues, including raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security.
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.
Numerous news outlets have failed to provide the full context for Kerry's recent remarks on Iraq, instead presenting the issue of whether Kerry intended to criticize the troops as a he-said/she-said conflict. These outlets have also ignored comments by several prominent Republicans acknowledging that Kerry did not intend to disparage American soldiers.