Discussing the possibility of Democrats gaining a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Joe Scarborough stated, "So, with [Sen. Ted] Stevens losing, Democrats have 58 [senators and Senator-elects]. They've got this run-off in Georgia, which could get them to 59. ... If Al Franken steals enough votes in Minnesota, they get to 60. I'm not saying he stole any votes, I'm just saying, as a Republican from Florida, I mean, it's a close race. Steal some votes, you get over the top." In fact, Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has repeatedly said there is no actual evidence of fraud in the vote count of the state's Senate race.
On Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-host Fred Barnes echoed the discredited rumor that ballots in the Minnesota Senate race were mishandled, stating: "We've seen, under some questionable circumstances, Franken gaining, you know, 32 ballots from the trunk of somebody's car that had been sitting there for a few days. I mean, I find that a bit suspicious." In fact, state officials have refuted rumors that the ballots were handled improperly, and a lawyer for Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign, who initially raised questions about those ballots, reportedly said afterward that he had been assured the ballots were not tampered with.
The New York Times reported that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, "who is in charge of the recount" in the Minnesota Senate race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, "lamented the campaigns' 'hand grenades at each other,' " adding: "But as a well-known Democrat, he has not eluded those grenades, with Republicans strongly questioning his objectivity." But the Times did not note that Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that the canvassing board Ritchie named to certify the vote overseeing the recount was "fair" and that a lawyer for Coleman's campaign also reportedly said that the "state should feel good about who's on the panel."
In a report on NBC's Today about the Minnesota Senate race, Lee Cowan repeated the discredited rumor that "ballots have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, including some found unsecured in an election worker's car." In fact, according to election officials quoted in news reports, the ballots did not "suddenly appear out of nowhere," and they weren't "unsecured." Cowan also aired a statement by Fritz Knaak, a lawyer for Sen. Norm Coleman, apparently critical of the handling of the ballots in question, but he didn't report previous statements in which Knaak reportedly said he felt assured that the ballots weren't compromised.
The Wall Street Journal, Sean Hannity, and Brit Hume advanced rumors that 32 absentee ballots in Minnesota's Senate election were left in a car and mishandled, suggesting that election officials may have tampered with votes in an effort to benefit Al Franken. The claims followed similar allegations by Coleman campaign lawyer Fritz Knaak. However, none of the three mentioned that Knaak reportedly said later, "It does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern." Further, election officials have repeatedly said the ballots were sealed and held in a secure location until they were counted.
The Politico falsely reported that "in a background document distributed by national Republicans," the National Republican Senatorial Committee "accuses" Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie "of having connections to ... the Communist Party of America." However, the NRSC "background document" to which the Politico presumably referred did not accuse Ritchie of "connections" to the Communist Party USA -- claiming only that "[t]he Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy" -- and insofar as the document's reference to the Communist Party USA suggested a link to Ritchie, it did not back up the suggestion with any evidence.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Lis Wiehl falsely claimed that the ACLU has not raised privacy objections to the search by Ohio government officials of "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher's records, with O'Reilly saying the organization's response has been "nothing." In fact, ACLU of Ohio executive director Christine Link wrote in a letter that she "was deeply disturbed to hear that state officials approved the use of government databases to obtain information" Wurzelbacher, and the legal director for the ACLU of Ohio told Media Matters, "We would be very happy to talk to him and see if there's something we could do to pursue redress for this violation of his privacy rights."
On World News, Jake Tapper quoted House Minority Leader John Boehner's statement that Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who has agreed to be President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, "is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center." However, Tapper did not note that Sen. Lindsey Graham praised Emanuel as "a wise choice," saying Emanuel "understands the need to work together."
Criticizing a VoteVets.org ad that accused Sen. Elizabeth Dole of voting against funding body armor for U.S. troops, The Charlotte Observer wrote that "[n]either of the two pieces of legislation that VoteVets.org cites mentions body armor" and said with respect to one of the amendments cited in the ad: "The vote was for $1 billion for unspecified equipment, but body armor was not mentioned in the bill or on the floor." However, the Observer did not note that Sen. Chris Dodd repeatedly referenced "body armor" on the Senate floor while discussing the other amendment cited in the ad.
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.