A Washington Post article on the ethics-reform bill passed by the House of Representatives buried a crucial fact: The bill had provoked widespread criticism from Democrats and government watchdog groups. In addition, the article noted that eight Democrats crossed party lines and voted for the bill, but did not similarly note that more than twice as many Republicans crossed party lines to vote against it. Other major print outlets similarly omitted crucial context regarding the House bill.
NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported that one of Democrats' "big problems right now" is "convincing voters that the so-called 'culture of corruption' is a Republican thing." According to Seabrook, "there's a growing list of ethics allegations against Democrats in Congress," and as examples, she noted: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV], Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, and others took campaign contributions from Indian tribes that were associated with [disgraced former lobbyist] Jack Abramoff." In fact, neither Reid nor Stabenow are facing allegations of ethical misconduct regarding Abramoff contributions, and the mere receipt of contributions from Abramoff clients is not an indication of corruption.
Major media outlets have largely ignored reports by The Boston Globe's Charles Savage documenting President Bush's apparent willingness to disregard congressional authority through the use of "signing statements" asserting "that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution." The media have also ignored the response by Democrats to Savage's reports.
On The O'Reilly Factor, nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham claimed the "supposed mainstream media" are "making the same bet that [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA] is making" by supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Ingraham maintained that just as Kennedy supports granting a path to citizenship because it will "redound to the Democrats' benefit," presumably through votes, the media -- which she claimed "tilts to the left" -- support citizenship because it will bring "new viewers, new listeners, new customers to the more liberal viewpoint" to which the media purportedly cater.
Loading the player leg...
On the same edition of his radio show in which he misidentified the energy secretary, Bill O'Reilly proposed a "bill" to deport to Canada "high school kids in this country [who] couldn't pass a civics test," because they "don't know what the House of Representatives is; they don't know what the judicial branch is."
CNN's Dana Bash falsely claimed that a controversial provision inserted into an emergency spending bill by Mississippi Republican Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran would fund a rail line that Lott and Cochran "want to be built." In fact, the $700 million appropriation would fund the senators' efforts to move the existing CSX freight line despite the fact that, following Hurricane Katrina, CSX rebuilt the line at a cost of between $250 million and $300 million.
An April 19 New York Times article and an April 19 Associated Press article noted that the federally chartered home mortgage company known as Freddie Mac had agreed to pay a record $3.8 million to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to settle allegations that it violated federal election law by using company resources to host fundraisers for members of Congress, illegally funneling employee contributions to federal candidates, and making an illegal $150,000 contribution to the Republican Governors Association. But the articles did not disclose that the vast majority of the the illegal fundraisers hosted by Freddie Mac benefited Republican lawmakers.
On C-SPAN's Q&A, Washington Post staff writer Susan Schmidt -- one of three Post reporters to be awarded a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for investigating the influence-peddling schemes of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- repeated the false claim that Abramoff gave "a lot of money to Democrats." In fact, as Media Matters has noted repeatedly, no Democrats received contributions from Abramoff directly.
Fred Barnes claimed that "only the press" refers to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) as "the Hammer." But The New York Times reported that a tribute dinner held by DeLay supporters in Washington, D.C., in May 2005 included numerous references to DeLay's nickname: "Mr. DeLay was served a red-white-and-blue cake festooned with sparklers and plastic hammers -- a reference to his nickname, the Hammer -- while the band played 'If I Had a Hammer.' "
Fox News host Neil Cavuto interviewed Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) only two days after DeLay announced his intention to resign his congressional seat. But during the entire interview, Cavuto asked DeLay nothing about why he abandoned his re-election bid after winning a contentious primary or why he decided to leave office altogether, even though Cavuto claimed he "can't believe" that he had done so. Neither did Cavuto once mention DeLay's alleged ties to Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff or the guilty pleas of two of his former top aides, Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy, for conspiring with Abramoff.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews once again suggested Democrats would abuse the congressional subpoena authority if they regain control of one or both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. In a conversation with former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Matthews asserted that in 2006, Republicans will likely campaign on the claim that if elected, Democrats "are going to try to lynch the president."
The USA Today described the House ethics committee as being "gridlocked since January 2005 because of partisan disputes over its rules, staff and procedures." At that time, House Republicans weakened the ethics committee by granting either party complete power to block a complaint against a fellow party member.
In articles about the immigration reform debate on Capitol Hill, The New York Times and the Associated Press presented two Senate immigration reform proposals -- a comprehensive bipartisan bill and a compromise measure recently put forth by Republicans -- as the full scope of the current debate on the issue in Congress. But the Times and the AP ignored entirely the more severe reform proposal the House passed in December 2005.
An April 5 Washington Post editorial asserted that Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) departure from Congress will make it "much tougher for Democrats to flog their 'culture of corruption' message," offering only a quote from DeLay in support of the assertion -- but a Post article published the same day quoted a Democratic leader saying the opposite. The editorial then went on to undermine its own argument by noting that the political culture fostered by DeLay -- rather than the man himself -- represented the Republicans' "real problem."
On Fox News, numerous media figures asserted that Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) decision to resign from Congress will hurt Democrats' ability to campaign against congressional Republicans' record of corruption -- and DeLay's part in it -- during the November 2006 midterm elections. But such predictions overlook the widening ethics scandals involving DeLay and the Republican Party.