Beginning on the afternoon of April 23, MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN aired a controversial ad by the North Carolina Republican Party attacking Sen. Barack Obama and two Democratic gubernatorial candidates at least 22 times combined, in most cases also noting that Sen. John McCain denounced the ad. As media figures on MSNBC and CNN pointed out, the repeated broadcasts benefit the North Carolina Republican Party, which does not have to pay for them, and they presumably benefit McCain, even as he is credited with taking the high road for criticizing the ad.
Discussing on Fox & Friends whether Sen. John McCain is "fit enough to be the next commander in chief," radio host Mike Papantonio said, "[W]e ought to have the right to know about what's the status of the cancer that he had -- he developed two times, malignant melanoma." Steve Doocy replied, "That is true. All right. And I believe those records have all been released." However, while McCain released his full medical records in 1999, he has yet to release his recent medical records, which his campaign reportedly says it will do "sometime in May" after reportedly having "pledged to release [his cancer] test results before the end of April."
Discussing an attack ad on Sen. Barack Obama that Sen. John McCain has denounced, Fox & Friends co-host Andrew Napolitano asserted: "John McCain, for his whole career, has tried to stay above this kind of a fray. Why should he change now?" Napolitano did not point out that this is the latest example of a pattern in which McCain denounces smears against his opponents, while also benefiting from them. Moreover, in asserting that McCain has "tried to stay above this kind of a fray," Napolitano seemingly ignored several instances in which McCain has misrepresented the statements or positions of his opponents.
On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer left unchallenged Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's claim that "what Senator [John] McCain talks about" when he said he advocated a long-term military presence in Iraq is "to make sure that those who have lost their lives, that their lives were not lost in vain. I mean, we still maintain troop presence in South Korea." In fact, McCain has made inconsistent statements on the subject of a troop presence in Iraq modeled on South Korea, which Blitzer did not note.
Reporting on an ad from the North Carolina Republican Party that attacks Sen. Barack Obama for his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell asserted that Sen. John McCain "is taking a very strong stand," telling the party "that he does not want them to run this ad." She later said that "John McCain immediately demanded that the North Carolina Republicans kill the ad." By simply reporting McCain's condemnation of the North Carolina ad, Mitchell was repeating a pattern in the media of allowing McCain, as Slate.com's Melinda Henneberger noted, to "take the high road," while his supporters engage in smears for his benefit.
On Morning Joe, after Pat Buchanan said of Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech following the Pennsylvania primary that "only once or twice did that voice start rising to the level that every husband in America at one time or another has heard. You know, where it starts going up -- " Joe Scarborough said, "Be careful here, Buchanan." Chris Matthews added, "Go the other way. You're in the danger area. ... You're in the danger area, Pat, take my advice."
The Washington Post's Dan Balz asserted that Sen. John McCain's "advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform" is among the policy positions that help "paint a portrait of someone not cut from the traditional [Republican] party mold." In fact, McCain has abandoned his previous support for comprehensive immigration legislation, saying that he "would not" support his original comprehensive immigration proposal if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
On MSNBC Live, David Shuster presented to Tucker Carlson "a Hillary laughing pen" -- a pen shaped in the likeness of Hillary Clinton's head with a mouth that moves as the pen makes a laughing noise. In response, Carlson stated: "I can't tell you, David, how much I appreciate this, how much I appreciate your going through Chris' mail while he's gone and how much I'm really going to miss that cackle. I hope it goes on forever. It's brought light to my life."
In a post on MSNBC.com's First Read blog about Sen. Barack Obama's position on former President Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas, Aswini Anburajan reported that Obama has been "attacked by [Sen. John] McCain for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly." But McCain has not merely "attacked" Obama "for not condemning Carter's visit more sternly"; he has actually misrepresented Obama's position on Carter's meeting with Hamas, falsely suggesting that Obama "approve[d]" of the meeting.
Responding to a question about whether Sen. John McCain was "maintaining the endorsement" of controversial televangelist John Hagee. NPR's Cokie Roberts asserted: "Well, he says that it was a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement. So I -- what does that mean? I don't know if that means that he has -- maintains it or not." In fact, when asked if he "no longer want[ed]" Hagee's endorsement, McCain stated: "I'm glad to have his endorsement."
On The Situation Room, an on-screen chart showed Sen. John McCain's income to be significantly lower than that of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton when combined with the income of their spouses. However, the chart did not include any income earned by McCain's wife, Cindy. As Dana Bash reported moments earlier of Cindy McCain, "Some estimates actually put her worth at about $100 million."
A New York Times article about criticism of ABC's conduct of the April 16 Democratic presidential debate reported the comments of CNN's David Bohrman and noted that Bohrman "took particular issue with the lapel-flag question" posed to Sen. Barack Obama. But CNN has itself paid considerable attention to the flag pin flap.
Several media outlets have reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign justified refusing to release Cindy McCain's tax returns by citing Sen. John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as "precedent." But they did not report that, in contrast with Cindy McCain, Heinz Kerry did release a part of her 2003 income tax return that showed "total income," which enabled The New York Times to analyze how she benefited from the Bush tax cuts. Such an analysis of how the McCains have benefited from the tax cuts -- which Sen. McCain supports extending permanently -- is not possible, based on the information his campaign has released on Cindy McCain's income.
Fox News' Major Garrett falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's comments about Rev. Jeremiah Wright made during the April 16 Democratic presidential debate were "in conflict with his speech on that very subject." But in purporting to contrast Obama's reference during the debate to "comments not made by me but somebody who is associated with me that I have disowned" with Obama's assertion during his March 18 speech that "I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community," Garrett left out the next two sentences said in the debate exchange during which Obama made clear that he was not claiming to have "disowned" Wright, but to have disowned "[t]he comments" Wright made.
During his April 15 interview with Sen. John McCain, Chris Matthews failed to challenge McCain on a variety of issues, including Iraq, other foreign policy issues, campaign finance, and spending projects, despite purporting to ask "tough" questions.