On MSNBC Live, Mika Brzezinski said that Sen. John McCain "wants to eliminate the federal gas tax -- that's about 20 percent of the cost." Later, Monica Novotny said McCain is "proposing suspending the federal gas tax for the summer, potentially cutting prices by nearly 20 percent." In fact, the federal gas tax -- 18.4 cents per gallon -- comprises only 5.4 percent of the current average cost of regular gasoline.
Most national media have yet to report on whether Sen. John McCain -- a member of the "Founding Board" of the nonpartisan voter education organization Project Vote Smart -- has been removed from the board for his failure to answer and return the group's Political Courage Test, which asks candidates about what policies they would support on a wide range of issues.
On Fox & Friends, former New York Sun columnist John Avlon discussed Jimmy Carter's planned meeting with a Hamas leader and claimed: "[T]his is going to really resurrect some of the old ghosts and bring [Sen. Barack] Obama's attitude of negotiating with all our enemies under further scrutiny." In fact, Obama has reportedly stated that his willingness to meet with international adversaries "does not include Hamas."
The Washington Times' Andrea Billups wrote that Sen. John McCain's "low profile during the Wright flap suggests he doesn't intend to make it a political issue, even if others in his party do." But Billups did not report that a McCain campaign aide reportedly distributed a video that "splices together the most inflammatory language of Jeremiah Wright with a series of other issues that have arisen in the campaign."
Blog posts by The New York Times and washingtonpost.com both reported on the Democratic National Committee's announcement that it would be filing a lawsuit to force the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate Sen. John McCain's unilateral withdrawal from the federal public financing system for the primary election, but neither noted that FEC chairman David Mason has taken the position that McCain cannot opt out of public financing in the primary without FEC approval.
A Washington Post article uncritically reported the claim by a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain that McCain "has been seen as standing up to his party and fighting on issues -- the war in Iraq and immigration -- that have damaged him politically." The Post did not report that McCain has reversed his position on immigration to more closely align himself with the Republican Party's base.
The New York Times' political blog, The Caucus, reported that Sen. John McCain's campaign "believes" Sen. Barack Obama "reneged on his pledge to accept public financing," and that McCain's campaign "circulated an editorial ... that questioned Mr. Obama's commitment to the public financing system." However, The Caucus did not report that McCain may have violated campaign finance laws by surpassing spending limits under the public financing system for the primary campaign.
The Politico's Jonathan Martin asserted as "fact" that Al Gore and John Kerry "were elitists and were out of touch with average Americans." But to the extent the public perceived them in that manner, the media played a dominant role in creating and promoting that perception while largely avoiding discussion of whether President Bush was an "elitist."
An ABC News Political Radar blog post stated that Sen. Barack Obama made a "near gaffe" in saying, " 'Al Qaeda is not in Ir -- ' ... at which point he caught himself and finished the sentence by saying: 'the key Al Qaeda leadership is not based in Iraq,' " and also noted that the statement was "quickly seized on by aides to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain R-Ariz." But the blog post did not note that McCain himself has repeatedly made actual misstatements regarding Al Qaeda.
Fox News' Sean Hannity previewed a segment about former President Jimmy Carter's planned meeting with a Hamas leader by asking, "Is this what the Obama foreign policy will look like?" In fact, Sen. Barack Obama has said his willingness to meet with international adversaries "does not include Hamas."
A Bloomberg article noted that Sen. John McCain "has pledged to take public financing [for the general election presidential campaign] if the Democrat does. His campaign noted that [Sen. Barack] Obama 'promised the American people' he would take public financing," then quoted a McCain adviser as saying, "Senator McCain isn't in the habit of breaking his word, and he hopes Senator Obama doesn't either." The article did not report that McCain could be breaking federal law for failing to abide by restrictions placed on candidates participating in the public financing system during their party's primary season.
Politico senior political writer Jonathan Martin reported on Republican National Committee "[i]nternal polling data" showing Sen. John McCain "with a solid lead over both his potential general election rivals," but Martin did not report -- nor did he give any indication that he had sought -- any additional information about the RNC's data, or provide any justification for treating the results of an internal partisan poll as newsworthy.
On Hannity & Colmes, Frank Luntz said of Sen. Barack Obama: "[W]hen he gave his [March 18] speech on race, it was the first time that he used American flags behind him." However, Media Matters has identified numerous prior instances in which Obama spoke in front of either multiple American flags or a prominent American flag.
In reporting on whether Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama would accept public funding in a general presidential election, The New York Times and Newsweek did not mention that McCain faces possible fines and jail time for breaking spending limits imposed on candidates participating in the public financing system during the primary.