Several media figures have asserted that Gov. Sarah Palin faces "low" or "lowered" expectations in the upcoming vice-presidential debate and that she therefore faces a lower bar for victory than Sen. Joe Biden. They have made these assertions despite criticism by at least one member of the media over the media's setting of a lower bar for Palin and despite praise of her performance in the Alaska gubernatorial debate by others in the media and by McCain campaign surrogate Mitt Romney.
NPR's Mara Liasson uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign is "running this ad claiming she's [Gov. Sarah Palin] been the victim of sexism by Obama." In fact, the ad distorts each of the three Obama campaign statements it uses to make its "claim" as FactCheck.org and The New York Times have noted.
On NPR's Morning Edition, Mara Liasson asserted that a new McCain campaign ad "catalogued all of the false or sexist or awful things that Democrats and Obama supporters have said about [Gov.] Sarah Palin." In fact, the ad did not "catalogue" any "false" statements the Obama campaign or other Democrats have made about Palin and, as FactCheck.org noted, the ad "distorts" each of the three Obama campaign statements it uses "to make the case" that Sen. Barack Obama is "being 'disrespectful' of Palin."
On NPR's Morning Edition, Mara Liasson asserted there was "irony" in "a liberal Democrat showcasing his faith." Liasson did not explain what she thought was "ironic" about such an action.
NPR's Mara Liasson asserted that Sen. John McCain, "while never abandoning his commitment to legalization, has begun emphasizing the importance of securing the borders." In fact, McCain's current position -- that "we've got to secure the borders first" -- is not just a change of "emphasi[s]"; it is at odds with his prior position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective.
NPR's Mara Liasson said that Sen. John McCain "has made a career of taking heat from his own party for working with liberal Democrats like ... Ted Kennedy on immigration." However, Liasson did not note that during his run for president, McCain reversed his position on a key component of comprehensive immigration reform, and stated that he would not vote for the bill he co-sponsored with Kennedy.
On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson falsely asserted that a Tax Policy Center analysis of Sens. McCain's and Obama's tax plans "said that Obama might add more to the deficit -- because it's unclear how he's going to pay for these -- than McCain would add to the deficit." In fact, the Tax Policy Center found that Obama's tax proposals would raise $700 billion over the next 10 years, while McCain's tax proposals would lose $600 billion, when scored against a " 'current policy' baseline," which "assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would be extended and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] patch made permanent."
In their coverage of the January 30 Republican presidential debate, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, ABC, and National Public Radio all reported Sen. John McCain's criticism of Mitt Romney over negative campaign ads. However, none of those media outlets noted that McCain has aired numerous ads attacking Romney, despite having said that "negative campaigns don't work."
During the October 30 Democratic presidential debate, Tim Russert falsely claimed that a 2002 letter written by President Clinton to the National Archives "specifically ask[ed] that any communication between [then-first lady Hillary Clinton] and the president not be made available to the public until 2012" before asking Sen. Clinton, "Would you lift that ban?" In fact, President Clinton's letter did not ask that such communications "not be made available," but rather listed them as documents to be "considered for withholding" [emphasis added]. Clinton Records representative Bruce Lindsey said that Clinton asked in the letter that such communications be designated as part of a "subset" of presidential records "that should be reviewed prior to release."
On Special Report, discussing the October 9 Republican presidential debate, Mara Liasson stated: "[O]ne thing about [Rudy] Giuliani, if this is the year for authenticity, I would say that so far, Giuliani has been the authentic candidate in the race. He's very much himself, he's in your face, he seems to be comfortable in his own skin." She also said Giuliani is "strong and tough, and he has this incredible experience behind him."