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."
On the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams roundly dismissed student protestors in Los Angeles who were among the hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities nationwide demonstrating against legislation set to impose harsher penalties on illegal immigrants. Williams said: "These kids don't know anything."
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.
Following President Bush's speech at the City Club of Cleveland, several news outlets -- including The New York Times, Fox News, and National Public Radio -- reported without challenge or criticism Bush's example of Tal Afar as "a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq." By contrast, The Washington Post reported both the heightened sectarian strife and an Al Qaeda resurgence in the city.
During a discussion on National Public Radio's (NPR) Morning Edition regarding Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's March 16 nomination to be secretary of the interior, environmental reporter Elizabeth Shogren largely ignored Kempthorne's controversial environmental track record and minimized environmentalists' concerns about the nomination.
National Public Radio (NPR), the Associated Press, and ABC reported uncritically on the purported improvement of Iraqi forces, as touted by President Bush in a speech. But these outlets failed to note that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of operating independently has dropped from three in June 2005 to none eight months later. Moreover, contrary to NPR's assertion, Bush ignored this statistic in his speech and instead focused on other, more favorable indicators of improved troop readiness.
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.
Casting the Jack Abramoff scandal as bipartisan, the media have conflated two categories of conduct: 1) the legal receipt of campaign contributions; and 2) other possible illegal conduct including the receipt of campaign contributions in exchange for something.