While media outlets reporting Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that "I told the Congress 'Thanks, but no thanks' on that 'Bridge to Nowhere' " have noted that Palin had previously supported the bridge, or that Palin did not refuse the funds previously allocated for the bridge or reimburse the federal government, they did not report that Palin's claim is false, because Congress abdicated responsibility for determining how the money would be spent a year before Palin was elected governor.
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz wrote that Gov. Sarah Palin's "description of her role in the infamous bridge [to nowhere] funding is highly selective at best," but falsely suggested that there was insufficient evidence to establish that Palin's claims about her actions on the project are false. Kurtz ignored outright falsehoods in Palin's claims about her opposition to the bridge, including her claim that she "told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks' on that 'bridge to nowhere.'"
ABC's Charlie Gibson posed no challenge to several false, contradictory, or dubious assertions made by Sen. John McCain during a September 3 interview. Gibson is scheduled to interview McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, later this week.
On NPR, Renee Montagne asked Juan Williams of Gov. Sarah Palin's claims about the "bridge to nowhere": "Is it surprising that she keeps saying that, or repeating that she told Congress, 'No thanks,' on that bridge?" Rather than note that Palin's assertion is false, Williams responded in part by saying: "Well, what they're [the McCain campaign] emphasizing is that she, you know, did eventually turn down the idea without disclosing that early on she was, as you said, campaigning for it back in 2006. ... So, it's a matter of, you know, omission in their view."
On Studio B, Carl Cameron said, "Fifty-eight days before the elections, and the Obama campaign is accusing the McCainiacs of lying about this 'bridge to nowhere' issue." He went on to claim of Gov. Sarah Palin, "Now, she didn't ask for the bridge, nor did she ask for the money. ... [W]hen people say, 'Sarah Palin asked for earmark money or pork,' it's just inaccurate." In fact, in an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Palin wrote that in 2008, her administration "requested 31 earmarks, down from 54 in 2007" and that "the federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship."
In a September 7 New York Times column about Gov. Sarah Palin, Bill Kristol wrote: "[S]hould voters be alarmed by a relatively young or inexperienced vice-presidential candidate? No." The column marks at least the second time that Kristol has dismissed questions of Palin's experience since citing in his August 25 Times column the fact that "Palin has been governor for less than two years" as a possible reason for McCain not to pick her.
After Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain's running mate, Dick Morris characterized the media's coverage of Palin as the result of "the deep sexism that runs through our society." Two days later, Morris said that "when a woman wants to attack, it's hard because she's seen as strident or shrill," adding: "[Sen.] Hillary [Clinton] has that problem perhaps because she is strident and shrill."
The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva repeated Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that "the Obama-Biden Democrats have been vicious in their attacks directed toward ... my family," but gave no indication that he had challenged Republican aides to substantiate Palin's charge with examples of purported attacks. By contrast, while reporting the charge, NBC, ABC, and the AP all reported that when asked to provide examples of such attacks, Palin aides, the McCain campaign, and the RNC did not provide any.
In a September 3 interview, Charles Gibson did not challenge the claim by Sen. John McCain that after Sarah Palin obtained millions of dollars in earmarks as mayor of her home town, she "learned that earmarks are bad" when she became governor and said, "No more for my state." At no point did Gibson point out that as governor, Palin, by her own account, requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for Alaska just this year. ABC News did not air that part of the interview on the September 3 broadcast of World News, much less note that McCain was promoting a false claim.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post have previously challenged Gov. Sarah Palin's assertion that she "told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere," but they did not report that she repeated the false claim in her September 3 vice-presidential acceptance speech.
The Associated Press reported Mike Huckabee's claim that Gov. Sarah Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States." The AP did not challenge the claim despite its characterization of the claim in a separate "fact check" as a "whopper" because, according to the AP, Palin received a total 1,525 votes during her two runs for mayor while Biden received 76,165 votes in the 2008 Democratic primaries.
In reports on Gov. Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the RNC, the AP and Bloomberg both reported her accusation that Sen. Barack Obama "wants to raise taxes," without noting that, in fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families and raising them only on households earning more than $250,000 per year.
Numerous print media outlets uncritically reported Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that Sen. Barack Obama "is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform -- not even in the state senate," without noting that Obama has played key roles in the passage of reform legislation at both the federal and state levels, including a bill that McCain co-sponsored and thanked Obama for his work on.
On The O'Reilly Factor, pollster Frank Luntz stated of his discussions of Gov. Sarah Palin "with groups of independents here in Minneapolis": "[A]s the discussion goes on, they start to turn negative until they hear about her stopping a bridge to nowhere." However, Palin reportedly supported the proposal to build a bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding for the project. Luntz gave no indication that his focus group participants were told about Palin's prior support for the bridge.