Echoing the media's common characterization of Sen. John McCain as "principled" and "honest" -- and ignoring the various instances in which McCain has fallen in line with the Bush administration or the Republican Party establishment -- Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn, moderator of the recent Republican debate, asked McCain: "Your reputation as a maverick has put you at odds with your own party leadership from time to time. Give us an example of a time you wished you had compromised to get something done instead of holding firm on your ideals."
On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly took a call from a listener who said, "It sounds like [Oprah Winfrey is] voting for [Sen. Barack Obama] because he's black." O'Reilly responded: "I don't think your assessment is wrong." In a recent speech, after naming several specific actions Obama has taken, Winfrey said: "We need a president with clarity and conviction, who knows how to consult his own conscience and proceed with moral authority. We need Barack Obama."
Responding to a question from CBS' Katie Couric, Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Iran is moving toward accomplishing the worst nightmare of the Cold War -- nuclear weapons in the hands of an irresponsible regime. And then they're threatening the use of these weapons." Although the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concluded with "high confidence" that Iran had "halt[ed]" its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Couric did not challenge Giuliani's assertion or ask him a follow-up question about his answer.
On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly replied to a caller who said she was "disturb[ed]" over an email she received about Sen. Barack Obama, showing he was "the only one with his hand not over his heart" during the "Pledge of Allegiance," and "over the lapel pin thing," by saying, "Well, I think that Obama needs to answer some questions about his point of view, not only on the USA, but on a lot of things, and he simply doesn't do it."
On NBC's Today, David Gregory stated that, in his speech, Mitt Romney "urged voters to reject a religious test for his candidacy," then aired clips of Romney saying, "I will serve no one religion," and "[a] person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith." Similarly, Matt Lauer did not challenge Romney's claim that he "do[es]n't believe that the people in this country are going to choose a person based upon their faith or what church they go to." Neither Gregory nor Lauer noted that Romney has asserted, on several occasions, that Americans "want a person of faith to lead them."
On Countdown, Keith Olbermann asked Dana Milbank about the repeated references in The Washington Post to the cost of John Edwards' haircuts, including in his own column. Milbank replied that he is "guilty of the haircut slander" and added: "[T]he $400 dollar haircut speaks of that the same way Romney having the illegal immigrants twice return to work in his home even ... as he's complaining about illegal immigrants." While Milbank identified an inconsistency between Romney's actions and his stated views, he offered no justification for suggesting a similar inconsistency in Edwards' efforts to fight poverty while paying for expensive haircuts.
On Hannity & Colmes, Karl Rove referenced a question posed by Tim Russert to Hillary Clinton during the October 30 Democratic presidential debate, in which Russert stated: "[T]here was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift the ban?" In fact, President Clinton did not ask that such communications "not be made available"; he listed them as documents to be "considered for withholding."
On Morning Joe, without citing any examples, Joe Scarborough stated, "[Y]ou have your Holocaust deniers ... then you have your Giuliani deniers. And Giuliani deniers will tell you he had nothing to do with September 11th." But as Mika Brzezinski later noted, "There are a lot of people who have a lot of criticisms for Rudy Giuliani, and how he handled 9-11 before it happened."
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh aired a clip of Bill Moyers saying: "And you couldn't say, 'How are we going to defeat the nigger?' How are we going to -- which is the word that was so common when I was growing up in the South. 'How are you going to defeat the kike?' referring to Jews -- you wouldn't do -- that woman would not have done that, I don't think." After the clip, Limbaugh said: "I have no idea what he's talking about. I do -- I'm pretty sure he's lost his mind. Meanwhile, they accuse us of saying those words and harboring those thoughts, and now look who's out saying them on PBS." At no point during the show did Limbaugh note that Moyers was discussing Sen. John McCain's response to a woman who asked him: "How do we beat the bitch?"
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked Mitt Romney "why he didn't spend more time explaining the tenets of his Mormon faith in his speech last week." Romney replied: "I can't imagine doing that in a speech as you're running for president. ... [T]hat would really open the door to the kind of religious test where people would listen and say, 'OK, do I believe that?' " He later stated that "[n]o religious test should ever be required for qualification for office in these United States." But Couric did not note that Romney has repeatedly asserted that Americans "want a person of faith to lead them."
Reporting on Rudy Giuliani's December 9 appearance on Meet the Press, the Politico's Jonathan Martin asserted in a blog post that Giuliani "seemed to even good-naturedly mock and welcome [Tim] Russert's line of questions when the matter of" his business ventures' clients came up." By contrast, in Politico articles about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's September 23 appearances on all five Sunday talk shows, Mike Allen and John F. Harris wrote that Clinton's laugh "sounded like it was programmed by computer," and Ben Smith described Clinton's laugh as a "cackle."
In its "Front-runners" package on John Edwards, The Washington Post published four pieces that each highlighted the cost or "expensive" nature of Edwards' haircuts. The media have extensively scrutinized Edwards' haircuts, his North Carolina estate, and his work as an adviser to a hedge fund, often baselessly suggesting that they conflict with his anti-poverty campaigning.
On Morning Joe, while discussing the controversy surrounding Mike Huckabee's 1992 statements about AIDS, Mika Brzezinski praised Huckabee for being "charming," "authentic," and "honest," and stated that the way he's handling the issue is "brilliant." In fact, Huckabee has claimed that he "didn't say that we should quarantine" AIDS patients, and he has asserted that "[t]here was still so much confusion about HIV transmission" at the time he made the statements in question. But as several news outlets pointed out, by 1992, it was widely known that AIDS could not be transmitted via casual contact.
Discussing Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" speech, CNN's Colleen McEdwards said to the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) Richard Land, "I mean, let's face it, some people go as far as saying Mormonism is a cult." At no point during the interview, however, did Land acknowledge or McEdwards point out that the SBC lists the Mormon church as a "Major Cults/Sect in North America" or that an SBC group uses Mormonism as an example in highlighting four of the six characteristics it uses to answer the question, "What is a Cult or Sect?"
Writing about reports that Mike Huckabee had suggested quarantining people with AIDS in 1992, Washington Post staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. uncritically reported: "As Huckabee's response to a questionnaire on AIDS began to circulate yesterday, his campaign issued a statement from him noting that in 1992 there was much confusion about how AIDS was spread." But an Associated Press article reported that "[w]hen Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact."