On the January 13 edition of Meet the Press, host Tim Russert -- who, with NBC's Brian Williams, will moderate the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on January 15 -- once again cited the " National Intelligence Estimate, which had a lot of caveats" about Iraq's weapons programs to challenge a Democrat about his or her Iraq war vote, something he did not do in two previous interviews with Sen. John McCain. Russert also aired a statement from Democratic strategist Donna Brazile criticizing former President Bill Clinton's recent comments about Sen. Barack Obama, but not her subsequent remark that "I take the president at his word that he was not being condescending; he was not being insulting."
After falsely asserting that he was showing viewers "exactly what President Clinton said," referring to January 7 comments Bill Clinton made about Sen. Barack Obama, Tim Russert played a truncated quote from Clinton. In addition, Russert read a quote from The New York Times that truncated Hillary Clinton's statement about civil rights, omitting her reference to President Kennedy.
Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and Chris Wallace each discussed a Politico article that reported: "As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan." But, at no point during these segments did any of the hosts or guests note that Giuliani was having an extramarital affair with Nathan - whom they described merely as his girlfriend -- and that, because of the affair, New York City taxpayers were reportedly paying for both her protection and that of Giuliani's estranged wife.
Interviewing Barack Obama on Meet the Press, Tim Russert read a quote he attributed to Obama to suggest that he has "not been a leader against the [Iraq] war": "In July of 2004, Barack Obama: 'I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. ... What would I have done? I don't know,' in terms of how you would have voted on the war." Russert did not quote the very next sentence of Obama's statement, which was, "What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made" for authorizing the war.
In a blog entry, Politico senior political writer Jonathan Martin wrote that Rudy Giuliani's campaign had circulated a press release titled "Romney's Taxachussetts Hypocrisy" and characterized the campaign as "[n]ot terribly thrilled about having to engage a GOP opponent -- but also recognizing the necessity of letting no dig go unanswered." However, in the blog entry, Martin did not note a relevant statement that Giuliani made two days earlier in an interview with Martin himself: "It's my intention not to attack any other Republicans, absolutely. ... The whole focus of my campaign is I'm going to run against a Democrat." On Meet the Press, David Brody claimed that Giuliani "is talking about Hillary Clinton and nobody else," adding: "I mean, it's invoking the Eleventh Commandment, as Ronald Reagan would say, you know, thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican."
Discussing remarks by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and former Sen. John Edwards, that they would not commit "by January of 2013, to have all American troops out of Iraq," NBC's David Gregory described this as "a really measured position," and asserted, "Edwards particularly, who was embracing the left wing of the party's view that you have to end the war now, and the others even voting for cutting off funding." But Gregory's suggestion that Clinton's and Obama's current positions are inconsistent with their having "even vot[ed] for cutting off funding" -- an assertion that is itself misleading -- is false. And Gregory offered no evidence that Edwards has shifted position either.
On Meet the Press, Pat Buchanan said of the September 26 Democratic presidential candidate debate: "I think the Democratic Party doesn't know how far to the left they are moving. I mean, they said there that smoking is going to be a federal crime in public places." In fact, two of the candidates in that debate -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- said they opposed a federal law at this time banning smoking in public places and voiced their support for letting local communities develop such laws.
On Meet The Press, Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody asserted: "At the end of the day ... this issue [terrorism] helps the Republicans more than the Democrats because they're going to be able to enforce this idea that the Democrats want to go at this with law enforcement and the Republicans don't." Neither Tim Russert nor his other guest, CNBC's John Harwood, challenged Brody's assertions; in fact, Democrats have offered strategies for fighting both Al Qaeda in Iraq and the main Al Qaeda terrorist organization.
On Meet the Press, NBC News' Richard Engel asserted that "if you pull back the troops, the troops themselves are going to be furious. They have done so much and worked so hard ... that if you start pulling them back ... they're going to be livid." However, neither host Tim Russert nor other guests mentioned recent reports indicating that some members of the military would not be opposed to drawing down troop levels in Iraq.
Karl Rove asserted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "enters the general election campaign with the highest negatives of any candidate in the history of the Gallup Poll," and added: "The only person who comes close is ... hers are at 49. The only other candidate to come close was Al Gore with 34, I believe." In fact, Gallup's polling results show that President Bush's unfavorability ratings as he entered the 2004 general election campaign were consistently above what Rove claimed to be "close[st]" to Clinton's unfavorability rating -- "Al Gore with 34" percent.
In appearances by Karl Rove on Sunday morning talk shows on Fox, CBS, and NBC, not one interviewer asked whether an August 19 Washington Post article was accurate in stating that, according to White House officials, one of Rove's "two basic rules" in putting together briefings for political appointees was "to make sure they complied with the Hatch Act," a federal law that limits political activities by federal employees. As the article noted, "the Office of the Special Counsel ... has concluded that the Hatch Act was violated" during a briefing that was conducted by a Rove aide for political appointees in the General Services Administration.
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