The media have for months reported complaints by the McCain campaign that they have favored his opponent in their coverage of the presidential race, while making little attempt to assess the accuracy of those complaints or to confirm or refute them. But in a review of the media's coverage of two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. Barack Obama and two stories negatively affecting or reflecting on Sen. John McCain -- specifically Obama's ties to Bill Ayers and Antoin Rezko, and McCain's dealings with donors whom he reportedly benefited and his association with G. Gordon Liddy -- Media Matters found that the five major newspapers and the three evening network news broadcasts have frequently mentioned Obama's ties to Ayers and Rezko, but have rarely mentioned McCain's dealings with donors and have ignored his association with Liddy.
Rush Limbaugh baselessly asserted that "Sarah Palin's emails, personal emails, have been hacked, no doubt by Obama thugs." Limbaugh also repeated the claim that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign "dropped 30 people up there in Alaska trying to dig up dirt on" Palin, a claim Obama and Democratic officials have reportedly denied.
The New York Post falsely claimed that the results of a Wisconsin Advertising Project analysis stating that in a recent week Sen. Barack Obama ran more negative ads than Sen. John McCain "clash with recent media coverage accusing McCain of distorting Obama's record in ads." In fact, the analysis reportedly "do[es]n't measure the veracity of the ads"; rather, in the words of the San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli, it "define[s] 'negative' as any time you mention the opponent's name." Thus, the analysis did not "clash" with recent media reports noting that McCain's ads distorted Obama's record because it reportedly did not analyze whether the ads contained distortions.
In recent reports, McClatchy News Service and the Las Vegas Sun falsely suggested that Gov. Sarah Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough uncritically aired video of Sen. John McCain falsely claiming that Sarah Palin is "governor of a state that 20 percent of our America's energy supply comes from." In fact, as Factcheck.org noted, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Alaska is responsible for "just 3.5 percent of the country's domestic energy production," and only 2.4 percent of the energy the United States consumes.
In a New England Cable News video posted on the Boston Globe website, two comments by Sen. Barack Obama are spliced together, falsely suggesting that his comment that "[y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" immediately followed a reference to Gov. Sarah Palin. In fact, the "lipstick" comment immediately followed Obama's comments about Sen. John McCain's policies and political tactics.
CNN's Tom Foreman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain was "getting Barack Obama's record right" when McCain claimed that "during the primary" Obama told the group Caucus4Priorities "that he would cut defense spending by tens of billions of dollars"; Foreman also falsely suggested that Obama has only recently begun to advocate "increasing the size" of the military. In fact, Obama told Caucus4Priorities that he would cut "tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending," not overall defense spending, and Obama repeatedly said during the primary season that he would increase the size of the military.
Fox News' Major Garrett uncritically quoted a portion of an ad by Sen. John McCain's campaign that claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's biggest accomplishment on education was teaching "comprehensive sex education to kindergartners." Garrett gave no explanation of Obama's actual position on sex education, provided no response from the Obama campaign, and gave no indication that he had sought such a response, nor did Garrett note that the bill Obama supported would have required school sexual education programs to give "age and developmentally appropriate" materials and instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and included material warning children about sexual predators.
On September 6, Fox News' America's Election HQ aired numerous reports documenting claims by Republicans and the McCain campaign that they "rescued" American flags that were going to be "disposed of" by the Democrats after their convention at Invesco Field. But during the reports, Fox News gave no indication that it had sought to contact a Democratic Party official or Obama campaign spokesperson for comment, and only reported a Democratic response hours after it began reporting the Republican claims.