Reports on National Public Radio and NBC's Today uncritically repeated House Speaker Dennis Hastert's false claims that Democrats generated the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley. Similarly, an October 6 Washington Post article also failed to note reports that directly contradict Hastert's claims.
Following House Speaker Dennis Hastert's press conference, numerous media outlets trumpeted the news that Hastert took "responsibility" for the Mark Foley scandal but ignored his later statement, during that same press conference, that "I haven't done anything wrong."
Conservative commentator Paul Weyrich and 700 Club host Pat Robertson baselessly asserted that former Rep. Mark Foley's alleged misconduct is typical of gay men. As Media Matters for America has documented, studies that link homosexuality and child sex abuse are flawed and have been thoroughly debunked by numerous experts.
In an interview with former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep failed to challenge Yoo's many assertions on the recently passed terror detainee bill, including the claim that a U.S. citizen captured in the United States and detained as an "enemy combatant" would have the "right," under this law, to challenge his or her detention in federal court.
Numerous news outlets have continued to uncritically report House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's description of the emails Rep. Mark Foley allegedly sent to a 16-year-old former congressional page as "over friendly" and, in some cases, have themselves adopted his characterization.
Discussing negative campaign ads on The Big Story, John Gibson aired a clip by Sen. Rick Santorum's campaign attacking his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., without including an ad or even a response from the Casey campaign.
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.
In recent reports, the Associated Press claimed that Republicans in Congress will use "their strength" by highlighting national security issues, and National Public Radio asserted that they will hold a vote on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program to "embarrass" Democrats. However, the AP's most recent poll found that respondents trust Democrats more than Republicans to do a better job protecting the United States.
Various media outlets ignored President Bush's statement during an August 21 press conference that the United States will not withdraw its forces from Iraq as long as he is president. Those outlets simply reported that Bush pledged to keep U.S. forces in Iraq until "the mission is complete," and offered no indication that Bush pledged to keep troops there for the remainder of his term.
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.
On National Public Radio's Morning Edition, reporter Jacqueline Froelich failed to challenge Arkansas Republican state Sen. Jim Holt's assertion that "there are thousands of studies, actually ... over 10,000" that show "the homosexual family or the environment is problematic for the child." Froelich did not address Holt's dubious figure of 10,000 studies, which would be possible only if a new study reaching that conclusion had been released every day for the past 27 years. Froelich also did not mention that numerous scientific studies show just the opposite of Holt's assertion.
Following President Bush's announcement of his proposal to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the administration's plan to bolster border protection in numerous media appearances and interviews. But in their coverage, media generally failed to mention that in December 2005, Chertoff characterized the deployment of the National Guard for border protection as "a horribly overexpensive and very difficult way to manage this problem."
National Public Radio ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin responded to a Media Matters item documenting NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson's assertion on Fox News Sunday that "it's Democrats, not just Republicans, taking money from" disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Dvorkin attacked Media Matters and defended Liasson's comments, asserting that the Fox News transcript had incorrectly included the comma after "Republicans," leaving "the impression that Liasson said that both parties had profited directly from Abramoff." Dvorkin also attacked Media Matters as one of the "political blogs" practicing "guilt by association" in "seeking to trash both FOX for being conservative, and NPR for looking like FOX's willing agents whenever its news representatives participate on FOX's programs."
NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported that one of Democrats' "big problems right now" is "convincing voters that the so-called 'culture of corruption' is a Republican thing." According to Seabrook, "there's a growing list of ethics allegations against Democrats in Congress," and as examples, she noted: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV], Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, and others took campaign contributions from Indian tribes that were associated with [disgraced former lobbyist] Jack Abramoff." In fact, neither Reid nor Stabenow are facing allegations of ethical misconduct regarding Abramoff contributions, and the mere receipt of contributions from Abramoff clients is not an indication of corruption.
On April 17, numerous news outlets -- including NBC, CBS, NPR, and Fox News -- covering former Illinois governor George Ryan's conviction on corruption charges failed to mention that he is a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan's Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."