Echoing a March 22 Politico article that was hyped by the Drudge Report, the March 23 editions of Today, Morning Joe, MSNBC Live, and Fox & Friends all featured segments on President Obama's laughter during a 60 Minutes interview. The segments are reminiscent of the media's echoing Drudge by seizing on Hillary Clinton's laugh as a new subject of attention following Clinton's talk show appearances in September 2007.
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In numerous instances, the media have falsely stated or suggested that a CBO analysis of less than half of the economic recovery bill examined the entire bill, resulting in the false suggestion that the analysis, in the words of the Politico, "shows very little money will be spent in the first six or so months after enactment" of the recovery plan. But as the AP noted, the CBO analysis did not "cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats to provide relief to cash-strapped state governments to help with their Medicaid bills." Six days later, some outlets were still making the false suggestion.
On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects.
On NBC's Nightly News, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd suggested that findings in an internal report on President-elect Obama's top advisers' contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff were inconsistent with Obama's previous statements suggesting that he would have a "hands-off" approach to the selection of his replacement in the U.S. Senate. But neither Guthrie nor Todd mentioned statements in the report that appear to contradict their suggestion.
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
Discussing reports that President-elect Barack Obama is considering naming Sen. Hillary Clinton secretary of state, several media figures have responded with smears, including speculation that Clinton would pursue her own agenda as secretary of state and not Obama's, references to Clinton as Obama's "enem[y]," and speculation that Obama is considering the nomination because if Clinton remains in the Senate, she poses a threat of challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012 and can "mak[e] trouble" for him in the Senate.
On Hardball, Chuck Todd falsely claimed that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit "wants to get rid of the Pledge" of Allegiance. In fact, in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, a 9th Circuit panel did not decide that the entire Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, but rather "h[e]ld that ... the 1954 Act adding the words 'under God' to the Pledge ... violate[s] the Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chuck Todd said that Sen. Barack Obama "was judged as not winning" the first presidential debate, asserting that "it was somewhat of a draw." But national post-debate polls contradict Todd's assertion, with Obama receiving higher marks from respondents than Sen. John McCain.
NBC's Chuck Todd asserted as fact that Sen. John McCain "pulled the plug on his campaign for two days." But Todd did not note that following McCain's September 24 announcement that he was going to suspend his campaign, McCain campaign ads continued to run; that his advisers repeatedly attacked Sen. Barack Obama on cable news networks; or that McCain gave interviews with the three broadcast networks.
After Alex Witt aired a new McCain campaign ad on MSNBC Live that suggests the Obama campaign is being "disrespectful" to Gov. Sarah Palin, neither Witt nor NBC News deputy political director Mark Murray gave any indication that the ad contains several distortions or that, an hour earlier, Chuck Todd had said that the ad "takes some words out of context."
On Morning Joe, NBC News political director Chuck Todd said of media coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's comment that "[y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" while discussing Sen. John McCain's proposed policies: "I think the McCain campaign is laughing, laughing their butts off this morning. That any of us have taken the bait on this lipstick thing, I mean, this is a joke. It is laughable." Time's Jay Carney stated that the McCain campaign's claim that Obama's comments represented "sexism" was "false" and "ridiculous."
With reports that Sen. John McCain had picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, sexist commentary on cable news followed. On CNN, John Roberts raised the question of whether as vice president, Palin would be able to devote the time necessary to care for her baby with Down syndrome, and on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd suggested that Sen. Joe Biden bears the burden of having to adjust his behavior in a vice-presidential debate because of Palin's sex.
NBC's Chuck Todd responded to video of former President Bill Clinton saying of Sen. Barack Obama, "I think we have two choices. I think he [Obama] should win, and I think he will win," by falsely claiming that Clinton failed to make "a choice between Obama and McCain." In falsely asserting that Clinton had given a "non-endorsement" of Obama, Todd also left out Clinton's statement that he would "absolutely" campaign for Obama.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews said that Sen. Barack Obama should pick as his running mate "[s]omeone who's palpably patriotic, who sort of exudes it." Also, referring to Sen. John McCain's 6-percentage-point advantage over Obama among suburban white women in a recent poll, Matthews asserted, "[W]omen are low-hanging fruit, though, in the terms of politics. You can reach up and say, 'I'm pro-choice, he's not.' "