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."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that under President George W. Bush, "We created 10 million new jobs, lower unemployment than in the last four decades' average." In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has gained 2,866,000 net private-sector jobs between 2001, when Bush took office, and the first quarter of 2008.
On Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris revived the myth that Sen. Hillary Clinton became a New York Yankees fan only after she decided to run for the Senate, saying: "What I've always hated about Hillary is the phoniness. 'I'm from New York.' 'I'm a Yankee fan.' 'Oh, I love to chug-a-lug.' 'I'm a hunting -- or a hunter.' You know, all of this absolute garbage that you know isn't true."
On his radio and television programs, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented. In fact, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2001.
Again downplaying President-elect Barack Obama's victory, Karl Rove claimed on Today that the "call for change gave Barack Obama the presidency of the United States with 2.1 percent more than Al Gore got." In fact, in 2000, Gore received 48.38 percent of the popular vote, and according to unofficial election results posted on National Public Radio's website, Obama has received 52.7 percent of the popular vote, which is a difference of 4.32 percentage points.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity asserted that Al Franken is "trying to steal the election" because the Franken campaign "has been trying to challenge ballots that are clearly for Norm Coleman." Hannity subsequently aired several examples of ballots contested by Franken. However, Hannity did not display any of the published examples of ballots that the Coleman campaign has challenged that appear to be marked for Franken or another candidate besides Coleman.
Sean Hannity baselessly asserted that "[t]he federal government and the Democrats ... forced these banks, through the Community Reinvestment Act, to make these risky loans," adding, "The risky loans started the subprime mortgage crisis, which impacted all these financial institutions, which needed government bailouts." In fact, according to housing experts, the vast majority of subprime loans were made by independent lenders not covered by the CRA.
Referring to the Minnesota Senate race recount on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity claimed Al Franken is challenging ballots "because he's trying to litigate his way into the Senate seat." But as of November 24, according to the office of the Minnesota secretary of state, Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman have challenged roughly the same number of ballots.
Responding to Media Matters on Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris did not deny that over the last two months, he has accepted thousands of dollars in ad revenue from GOPTrust.com, a group he has repeatedly promoted and fundraised for on television and in his columns without disclosing that fact. Rather, Morris compared his receipt of ad revenue from GOPTrust.com with The New York Times' relationship with its advertisers. But there is at least one key difference: the Times does not routinely run editorials touting its advertisers and urging people to buy their products or contribute to them, as Morris has.
Since the beginning of October, Dick Morris has repeatedly used his columns and Fox News appearances to promote and raise money for the National Republican Trust PAC without disclosing that the organization has paid $24,000 to a company apparently connected to Morris, according to FEC filings. During that time, Morris' email newsletter has frequently included ads that state: "Paid for by The National Republican Trust PAC."
Discussing the possible appointment of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Andrea Tantaros said that if President-elect Barack Obama "select[s] Hillary Clinton and Bill ... it would be akin to a family adopting the Menendez brothers." Erik and Lyle Menendez were convicted of first-degree murder in 1996 for shooting their parents to death.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt rehashed the discredited claim that President-elect Barack Obama is to blame for recent declines in the stock market. In fact, analysts have cited economic data on dropping retail sales, increasing unemployment, and other significant factors to explain recent stock-market declines.
The Wall Street Journal, Sean Hannity, and Brit Hume advanced rumors that 32 absentee ballots in Minnesota's Senate election were left in a car and mishandled, suggesting that election officials may have tampered with votes in an effort to benefit Al Franken. The claims followed similar allegations by Coleman campaign lawyer Fritz Knaak. However, none of the three mentioned that Knaak reportedly said later, "It does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern." Further, election officials have repeatedly said the ballots were sealed and held in a secure location until they were counted.
Conservative media figures have baselessly asserted that President-elect Barack Obama's reported intention to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay would result in the release of terrorists and place the country at risk. In fact, news reports state that Obama is considering trials for some detainees and the potential release of others who have been cleared.
Conservative commentators have asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is to blame for the decline of the stock market since the election. But several analysts disagree, citing weak corporate reports and the release of unemployment statistics.