Reporting on President Bush's announcement of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation, media outlets, with few exceptions, have avoided characterizing Bush's assertion the previous week that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as a "lie" or intentional misrepresentation -- this, despite Bush's own admission of a deliberate deception. Some outlets even failed to acknowledge Bush's previous statement that Rumsfeld would stay on as defense secretary until the end of his presidency.
Contrary to Karl Rove's pre-election assertions -- which the media accorded significance despited his presumable responsibility to express optimism -- Democrats won control of both houses of Congress. This raises the question of whether the media were wrong in treating Rove's optimistic predictions as anything more than a job requirement.
Loading the player leg...
Despite the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld coming less than a week after President Bush pledged to keep Rumsfeld on until the end of his presidency, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell opined: "This president, whether you love him or hate him, is decisive."
Media figures have attributed Democratic gains in the House and Senate in the midterm elections to the number of wins by conservative or moderate Democratic challengers and have suggested that because the party's victory in the House was purportedly "built on the back of more centrist candidates," the incoming Democratic majority will be sharply divided. However, a Media Matters for America survey of the policy positions of 27 victorious House candidates found that they all agree on a core set of issues, including raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security.
NBC News' Andrea Mitchell baselessly suggested that making "robocalls," such as the one "being used in Illinois against [Democratic congressional candidate] Tammy Duckworth" is "the kind of procedure that both parties have used -- clearly -- but the Republicans have used it more this year than not."
During MSNBC's Battleground America coverage, Chris Matthews stated that Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is "not as good a candidate as [Maryland Republican Senate candidate] Michael Steele," citing an incident in which Ford approached his opponent outside a campaign event. Matthews compared this to a 2000 presidential debate in which Al Gore approached George W. Bush; Matthews said Gore was "being a fool" and "a dork" for doing so. However, in a 2002 book, Matthews wrote that Gore "turned in his best performance" during that debate.
On MSNBC's Battleground America, discussing races in which the Republican candidate has been accused of physical abuse, Tucker Carlson stated, "I thought, post-Clinton, your personal sexual conduct was not supposed to be relevant to anything unless you broke the law," adding: "[I]t's very odd all of a sudden to see Democrats attacking Republicans for their weird sex lives -- basically."
During an interview with Howard Dean, Norah O'Donnell selectively cited polls to suggest that the Democratic advantage in the generic congressional ballot has been considerably reduced. However, several other recent polls show Democrats with leads in excess of 15 percentage points.
A Media Matters for America review of MSNBC's daytime Battleground America coverage found that while prime-time anchors Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, and Tucker Carlson have all participated in MSNBC's special midterm election coverage, Keith Olbermann has been absent.