In their coverage of Sen. Trent Lott's election as minority whip, several media outlets have either failed to note Lott's 2002 comment praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 pro-segregation presidential campaign or failed to place Lott's remark in the context of his previous statements and actions that have been attacked as racially insensitive.
In reporting on recent speeches by Sen. John McCain, National Public Radio's Mara Liasson uncritically reported his argument that "his brand of maverick conservatism ... is what voters are looking for now" and asserted that the "role of independent and moderate voters" in the midterm elections "reinforces McCain's appeal as a general election candidate." She did not mention that McCain is at odds with a majority of voters on Iraq -- including most independents -- who disapprove of the war and favor some type of U.S. troop withdrawal.
Although Rev. Ted Haggard was the pastor of a 14,000-member church and president of "the largest evangelical group in America," as well as a regular member of weekly conference calls with the Bush administration, National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, Slate's John Dickerson, and Time's Ana Marie Cox all downplayed the political impact of recent allegations that he solicited sex and drugs from a male prostitute.
A Philadelphia Inquirer article characterized an admitted affair between Rep. Don Sherwood and a "woman in her 20s" as "Clintonian," even though the affair was reportedly exposed as a result of allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress. An item in ABC News' political newsletter, The Note, and a report on Fox News Sunday by Mara Liasson ignored the abuse allegations altogether.
On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson asserted that "there are plenty of aspects of the media that have blamed President Bush every step of the way for every misstep," but gave no examples to support her claim. She then falsely suggested that the press was not to blame for its treatment of Bush on Iraq, since everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But she made no mention of mounting evidence that the Bush administration had reason to know that its claims about Saddam Hussein were false.
Mara Liasson uncritically aired an ad from Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) that falsely claimed Johnson's opponent, Democratic state Sen. Chris Murphy, would require the government to "apply for a court warrant" before intercepting a call to a "known terrorist," "even if valuable time is lost." In fact, Murphy said he supports the current law on domestic wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes, which allows the government to conduct surveillance for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant.
On Fox News, NPR correspondent Mara Liasson said the Democratic Party is "divided" and has "no position" on whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, apparently basing her conclusion on the opposition of most Democratic senators to an amendment setting a date for withdrawal. But a strong majority of Senate Democrats voted for a separate amendment calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning sometime this year.
On Fox News Sunday, NPR's Mara Liasson again falsely claimed that Democrats received money from disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. As the weblog Think Progress first noted, she claimed on the May 7 show that "it's Democrats, not just Republicans, taking money from Abramoff." In fact, Democrats received contributions from Abramoff's clients and associates, but none from Abramoff directly.
Fox News analyst Mara Liasson touted President Bush's endorsement of a proposal by Senate Republicans to grant the executive branch authority to set fuel-efficiency standards for cars. But despite noting the opposition of some Democratic and Republican lawmakers to raising fuel-efficiency standards for cars, Liasson did not inform viewers that Bush had also opposed raising those standards -- as recently as February. Fox News host Chris Wallace also noted Bush's endorsement of the proposal but left out the fact that this represents a shift in policy for the Bush administration.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Mort Kondracke claimed that "experts that I talked to think" that Iran will produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb by summer 2007. Kondracke did not inform viewers which "experts" he was referring to.
On Special Report with Brit Hume, NPR's Mara Liasson, again asserted, in defiance of NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, that "whenever there's any kind of a contest or a contrast between the person at the podium in the White House briefing room and the press corps, the press corps generally loses. ... I think that happened in this case, too." Dvorkin has previously admonished NPR reporters for going on programs "that are looking to appear fair and balanced" and expressing their opinions rather than simply recounting what their reporting shows.
On NPR's All Things Considered, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson interviewed five Republicans and no Democrats during a segment host Michele Norris described as a "look at how Republicans in Congress are dealing with the fallout from the Abramoff affair." The all-GOP format of Liasson's report gave one of the Republicans a chance to launch unanswered attacks on Democrats.