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A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
Joe Scarborough baselessly claimed that "the majority" of Senate Democrats, by voting against a proposal by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to redeploy troops from Iraq by mid-2007, "voted with George Bush" to "maintain the course in Iraq." In fact, 37 of 43 Senate Democrats voted in favor of a nonbinding amendment sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) calling for "the beginning of a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year," which all but one Republican voted against.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough misleadingly described the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll, declaring four times that the poll showed that "69 percent of Americans now believe America can win the war in Iraq." But included in the 69 percent that Scarborough cited were 21 percent of respondents who believed that the United States "can win the war in Iraq" but "don't think it will win."
On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, radio host Michael Smerconish again lamented the "sissification of America," this time in reference to the verdict in which Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison instead of death for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Host Joe Scarborough appeared to adopt Smerconish's terminology, suggesting that Americans aren't "reminded every day" about 9-11 by the "news network[s]," and that "[m]aybe this is part of the -- what do you call it, the sissification of America?"
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough devoted an entire segment of Scarborough Country to purported housekeeping differences between First Lady Laura Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), asking whether Clinton neglected housekeeping because she was "too busy trying to play assistant president."
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After the contentious exchange between Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas and President Bush during Bush's March 21 press conference, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and several other conservative commentators rushed to attack Thomas. O'Reilly accused her of "hat[ing] Bush and try[ing] to undermine everything he does," and even suggesting that if he were Bush, he "would have laid her out." Several other conservative media figures -- including Jonah Goldberg, Fred Barnes, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson -- have followed suit, sometimes with highly personal attacks.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough claimed that John Zogby, president and CEO of the polling firm Zogby International and an Arab-American, "may be biased" on the issue of the Iraq war and "the Middle East situation."
On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough argued that there is "not a dime's worth of difference between" what the "major party leaders are saying" about the Iraq war. According to Scarborough, "The Democrats will tell you the president screwed up. But heck, even the president is saying he screwed up. So again, no difference." However, an examination at Bush's purported admissions of error shows that he has not admitted to as much as Scarborough suggested he has, and that the president has qualified any acknowledgement of war-related problems with ambiguous language.
In a discussion about a class project at a New Jersey high school involving the mock trial of President Bush for war crimes, Joe Scarborough said: "This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war."
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that, in a recently released videotape made shortly after Hurricane Katrina's landfall, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco "guaranteed" that New Orleans' levees "had not been breached," when in fact the levees had already broken. However, contrary to Scarborough's assertion, the tape reportedly shows Blanco offering the tentative and qualified assessment that -- based on information available to her at the time -- the levees had not yet been breached, but "[t]hat could change."
In recent days, media figures pronounced the story surrounding Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting partner "over," despite several unanswered questions regarding the incident and contradictory statements offered by Cheney and hunting party host Katharine Armstrong, whom Cheney said he designated to first report the incident.
On a Hardball panel that included MSNBC hosts Rita Cosby, Tucker Carlson, and Joe Scarborough -- but no progressives -- Scarborough called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "very shrill" and said that "there is a shrillness in Hillary that comes out on TV whenever she gets excited about something."
Numerous media figures highlighted the alleged "partisan" nature of Coretta Scott King's funeral but failed to comment on the politicization of Ronald Reagan's funeral.
Several media figures have used the release of Osama bin Laden's new audiotape to denounce critics of the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq.