Rep. Darrell Issa's past includes arrests for weapons charges and auto theft, suspicions of arson, and accusations of intimidation with a gun, but you'd hardly know it from the media's recent coverage of the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While Issa was substantially mentioned in 15 articles in the nation's largest newspapers since the last election -- including several major profiles -- only one of those articles mentioned any of these allegations. Likewise, interviewers did not ask Issa about his alleged criminal past in any of the cable or network interviews he sat for during that period.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News gave guests who oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, more than 40 minutes of airtime from November 23 through December 6 but only about 7 minutes to supporters during that same period.
Between January 1 and October 31 of this year, five potential Republican presidential candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum -- who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts have appeared on the network for a combined total of nearly 66 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth at least $40 million in advertising costs.
A Media Matters for America review found that, during the week of August 24, Fox News aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question that opposed progressive health care reform efforts but aired zero clips of town hall attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question supporting reform.
In two studies, Media Matters documents that TV news networks have repeatedly given considerably more attention to perceived setbacks to progressive health care reform efforts than to events that signal progress for those efforts.
CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC aired at least 15 segments to discussing the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary analysis of an incomplete version of the Senate health committee's draft health reform bill, but they have aired only one segment to the CBO's analysis of the updated bill.
The media have portrayed the inclusion of a public option in a health care reform package as the most progressive position in the debate and described Sen. Kent Conrad's proposal for health coverage cooperatives as the "compromise" position. This framing ignores many progressives' advocacy of a single-payer system.
A Media Matters analysis of the guest appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight in the first four months of 2009 found that 52 percent more Republicans and conservatives appeared than Democrats and progressives.
Network evening news programs on May 14, Fox News, and CNN all ignored a report that Vice President Dick Cheney's office "suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner ... who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection."
A Media Matters analysis found that in the week following Justice David Souter's retirement announcement, significantly more Republican members of Congress, especially on Fox News, participated in daytime cable news discussions about or touching on the Supreme Court than did Democratic members of Congress and Obama administration officials.