Echoing a March 22 Politico article that was hyped by the Drudge Report, the March 23 editions of Today, Morning Joe, MSNBC Live, and Fox & Friends all featured segments on President Obama's laughter during a 60 Minutes interview. The segments are reminiscent of the media's echoing Drudge by seizing on Hillary Clinton's laugh as a new subject of attention following Clinton's talk show appearances in September 2007.
A FoxBusiness.com article reporting on an amendment that Sen. Chris Dodd added to the recovery bill featured the false headline -- subsequently posted by the Drudge Report -- "Amid AIG Furor, Dodd Tries to Undo Bonus Protections He Put In." Additionally, Fox News' Trace Gallagher falsely claimed that Dodd "created a loophole that allowed AIG to give out these bonuses." Rush Limbaugh also falsely asserted that Dodd's amendment provided an "exemption from any limits on" contractual bonuses agreed to before February 11. In fact, Dodd's amendment actually limited bonuses; it did not add "protection" for bonuses or "create a loophole" without which the bonuses could not be paid.
Linked article: Frank assails bonuses paid to executives at AIG
In a March 6 news article headline, Bloomberg referred to the "Obama Bear Market," and The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed on the same day with the headline "Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow." In fact, the market has been on a decline since October 2007, and, as the Financial Times' Dan McCrum said, "it's the economy which is driving the market down here" and that "what's important is that President Obama doesn't try to address that in the short term. He's quite right that short-term market movements aren't -- shouldn't be driving government policy. What he needs to do is concentrate on fixing the economy, and the market will sort itself out."
After Matt Drudge posted the headline "ENEMIES LIST: WHITE HOUSE PLOTS LIMBAUGH COVERAGE" on his website, several media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Tony Blankley, and Newt Gingrich -- advanced Drudge's claim that Obama, like President Nixon, had an "enemies list," or compared the Obama White House to the Nixon administration.
The AP uncritically reported that Sen. Mitch McConnell and "other Republicans" stated that the economic recovery bill "allows Democrats to go on a spending spree unlikely to jolt the economy." But the AP did not point out that the Congressional Budget Office "anticipates that implementation of H.R. 1 would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years," or that CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said the bill "would provide a substantial boost to economic activity over the next several years relative to what would occur without any legislation."
A Drudge Report headline stated "HILL REPUBLICAN: STIMULUS GIVES CASH TO ILLEGALS" and linked to an AP article that reported that "[t]he $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday." A revised version of the article made clear that the claim is false, but the Drudge Report did not remove the headline and link to the original version of the article until roughly four hours after the new version was available.
A Drudge Report headline falsely suggested that President Barack Obama is in the process of drafting a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; in fact, the Guardian (London) article to which the headline linked did not report that Obama was addressing a letter directly to Ahmadinejad; rather, it reported that "[t]he letter would be addressed to the Iranian people and sent directly to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter."
The Hill's Jared Allen repeated the false claim that ACORN is, in Allen's words, a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package," and uncritically reported NRCC communications director Ken Spain's false suggestion that the stimulus bill includes "a $4.2 billion bailout" for ACORN. In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Additionally, the bill requires that the $4.19 billion it allocates for "neighborhood stabilization activities" be distributed through competitive processes.
The Drudge Report featured the headline, "Iran Nuke 'This Year'..." linking to an article on the British-based Sky News website. But contrary to Drudge's headline, the Sky News article did not report that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon this year; it reported that a study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies predicts that sometime in 2009, Iran "will probably reach the point at which it has produced enough low-enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb -- though it would first have to enrich it further." The article quoted the study's author saying that "being able to enrich uranium is not the same as having a nuclear weapon."
Matt Drudge featured a report on his website under the headline, "Gore Hearing On Warming May Be Put On Ice," stating that "Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming. But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings." However, climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate.
Leading up to President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony, several media outlets have advanced the claim that Obama's inauguration will cost significantly more than President Bush's 2005 inauguration. Citing "estimates" ranging from $150 million to $170 million in total costs for Obama's inaugural events, the outlets have compared the purported total costs in 2009 to the approximately $42 million in private funds spent on Bush's 2005 inauguration. However, these outlets omit the additional costs of security, transportation, and other expenses incurred by federal, state, and local governments in conjunction with the events in 2005 while including them in the projections for the 2009 events.
Media critics have recently postulated that while Matt Drudge may have once set the media's agenda, his influence has waned and his efforts to inject himself in the media's coverage of the presidential election have largely fallen flat. This election season, Drudge has posted a long series of items that were false on their face or turned out to be false, making the strong case that, if his influence is not in fact waning, it should be.
Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that, during a 2001 radio interview, Sen. Barack Obama said that "the Warren Court was not, quote, 'radical enough.' " In fact, Obama didn't say the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren was not "radical enough." Scarborough also falsely claimed that during the interview Obama said "the Warren Court did not go far enough, that actually one of the great tragedies was there was no redistribution of wealth." In fact, the "traged[y]" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement relied too much on the courts in its efforts to bring about political and economic justice.
On-screen text on Fox News echoed the Drudge Report in falsely claiming that Sen. Barack Obama said it is a "tragedy" that the Supreme Court has not addressed wealth redistribution. In fact, the "tragedy" Obama identified during the interview was in what he said was the civil rights movement's overreliance on the courts to pursue political and economic justice.