A recent CBS Evening News report on unnecessarily strict voter ID laws engaged in the sort of "he said, she said" reporting that ignores the virtual non-existence of in-person voter fraud, a type of false equivalence that media critics have widely condemned.
On October 9, the Supreme Court issued an order that prevented Wisconsin's voter ID law -- one of the strictest in the nation -- from going into effect just weeks before the November elections. Opponents of the law argued that the new identification requirements were not only unconstitutional but would have caused "chaos" at polling places and could have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters who lacked the appropriate ID. A similarly restrictive voter ID law was struck down by a federal judge in Texas that same day, with the judge calling the law an "unconstitutional poll tax" that unfairly discriminated against the poor and people of color.
These types of strict voter ID laws are popular among Republican lawmakers, despite the fact that they are redundant and there is no evidence of widespread, in-person voter fraud -- the type of fraud voter ID laws are designed to prevent. Nevertheless, on the October 10 edition of CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid's segment on the recent legal decisions affecting Texas and Wisconsin's voter ID laws failed to report this simple truth about voter suppression:
Following the news that President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, numerous media figures have called for him to "turn it down" or "give it back," often asserting that he has not accomplished enough to deserve the prize. On his radio show, Glenn Beck said Obama "has to turn it down. ... [I]t's the only way for him to make a win out of this"; Internet gossip Matt Drudge asked on his website, "Will he turn it down?"; and Michelle Malkin said, "[I]f Obama had an ounce of real humility, he'd refuse to accept the award."
From the October 9 White House press briefing, as aired on MSNBC:
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From the August 7 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
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Katie Couric claimed that small-business owners "would pick up a big part of the tab" for Democrats' health care reform plan. But neither Couric nor correspondent Chip Reid noted evidence undermining that suggestion.
You may recall a Media Matters video from May 20 highlighting some odd examples of journalistic excellence from some very unlikely sources. Some, of course, were from people you would have expected. Well, I'd like to present you with "Good News: Ten More Examples Of Journalistic Excellence":
Numerous media figures have advanced the attack that because the current unemployment rate is higher than initial administration predictions, in the words of Newt Gingrich, Obama's "policies are failing." But supporters of a stimulus bill had warned before it was passed that it would not result in an immediate decrease in unemployment.
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On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric stated that the omnibus spending bill was "filled with earmarks," and Chip Reid reported that the bill was "loaded with about eighty-five hundred pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review." But at no point did they note that according to most estimates, earmarks constitute less than 2 percent of the bill's total spending.
Discussing President Obama's meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the economic stimulus plan, CBS' Chip Reid reported that "when Republicans criticized tax refunds for people who don't pay taxes, sources in the meeting say the president said, quote, 'I won,' referring to the election and making it clear he's sticking with that part of the plan." In fact, Obama has not proposed giving tax refunds to "people who don't pay taxes"; he has proposed giving the tax credit to "working families," which means they pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
The CBS Evening News, Fox News' The Live Desk, and the Politico's Jonathan Martin noted Cindy McCain's attack on Sen. Barack Obama that his "vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body." However, none of their reports pointed out that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On the CBS Evening News, Chip Reid uncritically aired video of Sen. John McCain claiming that the "crisis on Wall Street, my friends, started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence-peddling, and [Sen. Barack Obama] was right square in the middle of it." However, Reid did not mention McCain's own ties to the "Washington culture of lobbying." According to a Mother Jones report, "at least 83" McCain aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers "have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks."
The CBS Evening News devoted five minutes, in two segments, to the back-and-forth between the campaigns of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama over Obama's September 9 "lipstick" remark and other McCain attacks before CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante reported of the "lipstick" comments: "The facts: Obama had not mentioned Palin. He was focused on the central argument of his campaign -- that McCain's policies would be no different than President Bush's."
CBS' Chip Reid stated, "[Sen. John] McCain says he now supports increased offshore drilling, as do 73 percent of Americans, because, he says, more oil supplies will bring prices down," and went on to claim, "[Sen. Barack] Obama says offshore drilling harms the environment, and looks to the past, not the future." But Reid provided no indication that Obama has directly rebutted the suggestion that "increased offshore oil drilling ... will bring prices down" by pointing to the conclusion of "most experts, even within the Bush Administration," that doing so would not affect gas prices for many years.
In a report about a back-and-forth between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain over a recently passed GI bill, CBS' Chip Reid uncritically quoted from a McCain statement, in which McCain stated that, instead of "tak[ing] the time and trouble to understand this issue," Obama "prefers impugning the motives of his opponent." But, in the same statement, McCain himself impugned Obama's motives.