When considering what kind of platform to offer conservative commentators' criticism of President Obama's reaction to events in Iran, the media should remember these commentators' previous discredited claims, predictions, and analysis about other foreign policy issues, particularly the Iraq war.
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During and following President Obama's recent trip to Europe and the Middle East, which included a meeting of the G-20 and the NATO summit, conservative media figures and outlets have accused Obama of turning the trip into an "apology tour."
Many media conservatives have recently embraced and promoted the accusation, almost in unison, that President Obama has "lied" or broken promises. In many cases, these accusations are based on distortions of comments he has made or misrepresentations of campaign pledges.
In numerous instances, the media have falsely stated or suggested that a CBO analysis of less than half of the economic recovery bill examined the entire bill, resulting in the false suggestion that the analysis, in the words of the Politico, "shows very little money will be spent in the first six or so months after enactment" of the recovery plan. But as the AP noted, the CBO analysis did not "cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats to provide relief to cash-strapped state governments to help with their Medicaid bills." Six days later, some outlets were still making the false suggestion.
Since initial reporting that President-elect Barack Obama was considering naming Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, many in the media have raised the specter of personal and political "drama" -- which they claim follows Hillary and Bill Clinton wherever they go -- negatively affecting the Obama administration. The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page acknowledged that the media are hoping for "drama" resulting from a Clinton appointment; Page responded to the question of how Obama is "going to keep the drama at bay" by saying: "Well, do we want that? We're journalists."
On CNN's The Situation Room, Jeffrey Toobin asserted that the media are "being kind of gullible in falling for" Sen. John McCain's announcement that he was going to suspend his campaign. Minutes earlier, however, Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Brian Todd had repeatedly asserted as fact that McCain "suspend[ed]" his campaign, without noting, as Toobin did, that McCain ads were running; that his surrogates repeatedly attacked Sen. Barack Obama on cable networks; or that McCain gave interviews with the three broadcast networks following his "suspension."
On CNN, The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes said that Jerome Corsi's falsehood-laden book The Obama Nation "certainly sounds like it has some significant problems with it." Later, speaking about National Review writer David Freddoso, author of The Case Against Barack Obama, Hayes said, "[H]e's a serious reporter, and he's ... gone back, he's looked at Obama's votes in the Illinois state Senate." But Media Matters has documented numerous examples of misinformation in Freddoso's book, as well as in Corsi's.
Less than two weeks after it was revealed that The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes had been chosen to write an official biography of Dick Cheney, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a postwar report on Iraq's weapons programs and its purported links to terrorism that thoroughly debunked the claim -- repeatedly advanced by Hayes -- that there existed a connection between the government of Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and 9-11.
When a guest on The O'Reilly Factor questioned Bill O'Reilly's assertion that a hospital that treated a wounded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was "run by Uday Hussein," O'Reilly replied: "No, that's Stephen Hayes, and he stands behind his reporting, although he did make a mistake. ... He said that Zarqawi's leg was amputated, and it wasn't."
In an article in The Weekly Standard, senior writer Stephen F. Hayes attacked a 2003 article by New York Times staff writer James A. Risen that, according to Hayes, falsely claimed the Bush administration had selectively used intelligence to suggest a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. To refute the Times article, Hayes quoted a line allegedly from a CIA report referenced by Risen, but the line does not address the administration's alleged selective use of intelligence, or even provide support for the claim of a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes falsely claimed that public polling shows "support" for the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic spy program. In fact, an AP/Ipsos poll released January 6 shows that 56 percent of Americans said the Bush administration "[s]hould ... be required to get a warrant from a judge before monitoring phone and internet communications between American citizens in the United States and suspected terrorists."