On Morning Joe, Time's Rick Stengel claimed that Sen. Barack Obama "has to say it's a new paradigm of patriotism, it's a kind of post-identity politics patriotism, where, 'I wouldn't have had the opportunities I've had anywhere else in the world. .... And the qualities that make America what America is, what makes America great, is the reason that I've been able to be so successful.' " But Obama has said precisely that.
On Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough advanced the myth that Sen. John McCain hasn't flip-flopped on his position on immigration reform by asserting: "[T]here are a lot of issues that Republicans have despised John McCain for taking positions on. He stayed with those positions, and it makes him much stronger in the fall campaign because of it, and I speak mainly of illegal immigration." In response, co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Absolutely." Indeed, conservatives have praised McCain's rightward shift on the issue.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist repeatedly mocked Sen. Barack Obama's bowling performance -- which Scarborough called "dainty" -- at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. Deriding Obama's score, Scarborough said: "You know Willie, the thing is, Americans want their president, if it's a man, to be a real man." He added, "You get 150, you're a man, or a good woman," to which Geist replied, "Out of my president, I want a 150, at least." After guest Harold Ford Jr. said that Obama's bowling showed a "humble" and "human" side to him, Scarborough replied, "A very human side? A prissy side."
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist, and NBC News' Savannah Guthrie did not challenge senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt's false assertion that "[w]ith regard to the economy," Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are "talking about raising taxes across the board." In fact, Obama and Clinton have proposed tax cuts -- not tax increases -- for the poor and the middle class.
On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough discussed "[a] trip made by three U.S. lawmakers to Iraq before the war [that] was secretly financed by -- Saddam Hussein." Brzezinski stated, "The dates of the tour match one taken by Democratic representatives Jim McDermott, David Bonior, and Mike Thompson." But neither Brzezinski nor Scarborough mentioned that, as reported on the Morning Joe on-screen news ticker, "The Justice Department [told] NBC News it is satisfied the lawmakers believed in good faith the trip was funded by a legitimate charity."
On Morning Joe, Chris Matthews asserted: "We're stuck in Iraq; 4,000 people are dead now because of decisions made by politicians like the Clintons." Matthews did not explain how "politicians like the Clintons" were responsible for the deaths of "4,000 people" in Iraq, nor did he mention President Bush, who actually made the decision to send U.S. troops to invade Iraq.
After Chuck Todd acknowledged a media double standard in coverage of Sen. John McCain's Al Qaeda-Iran gaffe, CNBC's John Harwood asserted on Morning Joe: "I think that at the end of the day, John McCain has got sufficient credibility on that issue that people are not going to look at that and say, 'Oh, John McCain is confused' or 'John McCain's too old' or 'John McCain doesn't get it.' ... But he obviously can't do that too many times or he's got a problem." Harwood was not alone in misrepresenting or excusing McCain's false claim on MSNBC; several MSNBC reporters and anchors have ignored or excused McCain's false claim.
Responding to Barack Obama's comment, made in his March 18 speech addressing controversial statements by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, that his white grandmother had "uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes," Joe Scarborough said: "I really wonder why anybody, why any man, would throw his grandmother under the bus during a political speech regardless of the point he was trying to make." But last week, Scarborough said that "we all have people that we love dearly who are crazy," adding, "Do not hold me accountable for things that my father has said in the past ... or for e-mails ... that my mother sends me. ... And again, Mom and Dad, I love you. I'm just making a bigger point."
Joe Scarborough asserted on MSNBC's Morning Joe: "John McCain has never attached himself to these people on the far right that say if you're gay, you're going to hell, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera." In fact, McCain has "attached himself to" some notable religious figures who have made controversial statements, among them John Hagee and Rod Parsley.
While discussing Sen. Barack Obama, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan said, "Remember that thing Mrs. Clinton said where she was asked, 'Do you think he's a Christian?' And she said one of those formulations like 'Oh, as far as I know, look into it.' " MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski replied, "Wink-wink, yeah." In fact, during an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, Clinton was not asked, "Do you think he's a Christian?" -- when asked, "You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?" she immediately responded, "Of course not." Moreover, she compared "ridiculous rumors" circulating about her to rumors about Obama, making clear that the Obama rumors are false.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, NBC correspondent Lee Cowan stated that "[n]obody that I know of has asked" Sen. Barack Obama about controversial comments his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, made just days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In fact, The New York Times asked Obama about Wright's remarks in a 2007 interview, and Obama reportedly replied, "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification."
Discussing the scandal involving New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and why "wives go out and stand beside their husbands," The Washington Post's Sally Quinn said on MSNBC's Morning Joe: "The only thing I can think of is that women who are married to these powerful men have -- the power that they have is derivative. They get their power from their men and their status and that they don't want to lose that power."
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On Morning Joe, Chris Matthews asserted that "if a Democrat were smart, who gets elected president, they wouldn't go back to the old Canadian model ... single-payer model." In fact, neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Sen. Hillary Clinton has proposed a health-care plan that resembles the Canadian health-care system or a "single-payer model." Matthews also suggested that the Democratic candidates should "take something that looks practical out of Massachusetts with Mitt Romney... and put [their] name on it" and "try some kind of mandated benefit." However, Obama's and Clinton's health-care proposals both include "mandated benefit[s]," and Clinton's plan has drawn comparisons to the plan Romney implemented in Massachusetts.
On MSNBC, while saying that Sen. Hillary Clinton should release her tax returns, Pat Buchanan asserted, "[L]ook, there's an awful lot of money that those two made, and they want to see where the money came from, especially where Bill's income came from if they filed a joint return," adding, "And I think Republicans will demand it." However, Buchanan did not note that Sen. John McCain also has not released his tax returns.
On February 27, MSNBC devoted significant coverage to an exchange from the most recent Democratic presidential debate in which NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert repeatedly questioned Sen. Barack Obama about praise he received from controversial minister Louis Farrakhan, whose statements Obama has denounced. The same day, Pastor John Hagee -- who has made controversial comments about homosexuality, Islam, Catholicism, and women -- endorsed Sen. John McCain, who embraced Hagee's support. Hagee's endorsement and McCain's response to it raise the question of whether MSNBC will report on them as extensively as it did on Farrakhan's praise.