Media Matters has extensively documented the disparity in media coverage devoted to controversial comments made by supporters of Sen. Barack Obama and to those made by supporters of Sen. John McCain. Several major publications have reported only on the controversy over remarks by McCain supporter John Hagee targeting Catholics, but not his controversial statements about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality. Most of those same publications have yet to report on pastor Rod Parsley and his controversial remarks in the context of McCain's campaign.
In an article discussing whether Sen. Barack Obama "can transcend the starkly red-and-blue politics of the last 15 years, end the partisan and ideological wars and build a new governing majority," The New York Times noted that the National Journal rated Obama's "voting record ... the most liberal in the Senate." But the Times did not mention that the Journal's rating conflicts with that of a respected study that, in contrast to the Journal's, uses every non-unanimous vote cast within a given year.
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro asserted that Sen. John McCain's "fact-finding foreign policy trip" "burnish[ed] his defense and foreign policy credentials." Lambro wrote this despite McCain's admittedly false claim during the trip that "it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that ... Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran."
The Boston Globe's Peter S. Canellos reported that Sen. John McCain's "opposition to Bush on a range of issues, combined with his nonideological voting record, gives him an image of moderation." In fact, McCain himself has stated, "My record in public office taken as a whole is the record of a mainstream conservative," and has said that he will "offer Americans ... a clearly conservative approach to governing." Furthermore, academic studies of McCain's voting record have ranked him among the most conservative members of the Senate.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz has devoted a total of approximately 18 minutes to the controversy surrounding remarks made by Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In contrast, Kurtz has led only brief discussions on two religious figures who have endorsed Sen. John McCain and who have made controversial comments -- a single two-minute discussion on Rev. John Hagee and only seven seconds on Rev. Rod Parsley.
In an article on immigration as a campaign issue, the Chicago Tribune reported that Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain "essentially agree on the need for an overhaul of U.S. Immigration law that would combine increased border enforcement with a new guest-worker program and measures to permit the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country to eventually apply for citizenship." In fact, McCain has said he "would not" support his original comprehensive immigration proposal if it came to a vote on the Senate floor and now says that "we've got to secure the borders first."
On his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton would react violently to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, stating: "Governor Richardson is alive and well. ... The lesson for you superdelegates is that you can vote against Hillary Clinton, and for at least four days, you can survive."
Lou Dobbs introduced the March 21 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight by announcing: "Tonight, Senator [Barack] Obama wins the endorsement of the nation's only Hispanic governor, Bill Richardson. Is Obama pandering to ethnocentric special interests again? We'll have complete coverage." The subsequent report included no discussion of whether Obama is "pandering to ethnocentric special interests."
CNN's John King said of campaign donations from the securities and investment industry, "It appears Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are getting the lion's share, but some wonder if that might make them too cozy with the financial services sector should either of them become president." Brian Todd asserted: "Senator Clinton got nearly $6.3 million from donors in the securities and investment industry. ... Senator Obama got just over $6 million. Both dwarf Senator John McCain's take of over $2.5 million." However, Todd ignored the fact that McCain's "take" from the securities and investment industry represents a larger portion of the total contributions he received than Clinton's or Obama's over the same time period.
On Morning Joe, Chris Matthews asserted: "We're stuck in Iraq; 4,000 people are dead now because of decisions made by politicians like the Clintons." Matthews did not explain how "politicians like the Clintons" were responsible for the deaths of "4,000 people" in Iraq, nor did he mention President Bush, who actually made the decision to send U.S. troops to invade Iraq.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney stated in a March 24 online piece that aides to Sen. John McCain "are beginning to see a general election upside ... to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries." However, Nagourney did not mention that McCain reacted to those perceived "problems" by abandoning his own comprehensive immigration reform plan.
NBC's John Yang claimed that "Bill Clinton made comments that some interpreted as questioning [Sen. Barack] Obama's patriotism" but played only a portion of Clinton's statement. Yang also failed to provide the Clinton campaign's explanation of the quote, in which it denied "questioning any candidate's patriotism."
Echoing claims made by John McCain's campaign, PolitiFact.com again characterized as a momentary lapse McCain's admittedly false claim that "[i]t's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran." PolitiFact repeated its earlier claim that "McCain recovered quickly" but failed to note that McCain made the misstatement more than once during a press conference and did so as well the day before in a radio interview.
Chris Matthews asserted that "[t]here's only one way to read" Bill Clinton's statement -- "I think it'd be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country ... instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics": "He's saying that if you pick these two people, you get two people who love their country. If you don't, you don't get two people who love their country." But others have in fact offered an explanation of Clinton's comments that differs from Matthews', demonstrating that, contrary to his claim, there is more than one way "to read that."
On Fox News Sunday, when Bill Kristol was asked whether "it's fair" to compare "[Sen. John] McCain's, quote, 'ministers,' " John Hagee and Rod Parsley, "to [Sen. Barack] Obama's pastor," Kristol replied: "No, because these are just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain." However, McCain stated in a joint appearance with Hagee that he was "very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support" and reportedly called Parsley a "spiritual guide."