After the recent arrests of terrorism suspects in the United Kingdom, numerous media outlets asked whether President Bush's approval ratings would benefit from the news or even claimed outright that his ratings already had benefited. Subsequent polling has shown the arrests resulted in little or no benefit for Bush. Media Matters now asks: Will these media outlets report on the true effect of the arrest on Bush's ratings?
Chris Matthews conflated Islamic terrorists with those "who may be politically on the left," and presented a false choice between "honoring civil rights" and "tap[ping]" terrorists' "phones," suggesting that "honoring civil rights" could lead to "the deaths of thousands of people." Matthews also discussed the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, in which his brother is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.
In articles on President Bush's August 16 speech at a Republican fundraiser, during which Bush accused those advocating for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq of promoting a "cut and run" strategy, the Associated Press and The New York Times characterized Bush's speech as "kinder" and "gentler" and free of "partisan politics."
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Fox News' Neil Cavuto interviewed evangelical pastor John Hagee regarding the recent United Nations-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, but Cavuto made no mention of the apocalyptic vision Hagee presented in his recent book, which foreshadows a nuclear showdown with Iran that "could ... be the beginning of the end." Cavuto also failed to note that Hagee has led an intense lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to present government officials with his message of Armageddon, or that Hagee's efforts have been praised by President Bush and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Numerous media figures have asserted that the foiled plot to attack several U.S.-bound flights from Britain benefits President Bush and the Republican Party. But in order to make the assertion, they omit evidence that both the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have failed to sufficiently protect against such attacks.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund falsely asserted that the United States has maintained "the same number of troops" in Saudi Arabia "that we had five years ago, about 16,000." In fact, the State Department reported that the United States withdrew its troops stationed in Saudi Arabia after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and a July report by the Congressional Research Service stated that about 300 U.S. military personnel remain there. Moreover, five years ago, there were reportedly about 5,000 troops in Saudi Arabia.
CNN political analyst and former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts baselessly claimed that "Republicans aren't going to allow Democrats off the hook on national security" because the American public has "the perception that Democrats don't care about national security, just like they say Republicans don't care about poor people." In fact, polls show a significant decline in the advantage Republicans held on the issue of national security and indicate that Americans now trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the "campaign against terrorism."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough baselessly claimed that "[s]ome Democrats" are "suggesting" that the recently foiled British terror plot "was just some ploy by the Republicans and the president and Tony Blair's government to justify their actions in the war on terror." In fact, Media Matters found no examples of Democrats questioning the veracity of the terror plot.
Since the recent U.K. terrorism arrests, numerous media outlets have suggested that the news would help increase President Bush's approval in the polls. In fact, the three major polls at least partially conducted since the arrests show little or no improvement in Bush's overall job approval rating.
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.
On ABC's This Week, Martha Raddatz argued that Democrats "don't want" to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq because "the lesson from Vietnam ... was you have to support the troops or there's tremendous backlash." This is not the first time the media have suggested that opposition to the Iraq war and support for U.S. troops are mutually exclusive positions.
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On CNBC's Kudlow & Company, Ann Coulter objected to host Lawrence Kudlow's assertion that the Iraq war is widely unpopular, claiming: "All objective evidence is that it isn't." Coulter cited the "[v]ast support for the war" shown in polling from "throughout 2002 and before we went in." However, Coulter then dismissed current polling demonstrating the war's unpopularity.
On CNN's The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Bay Buchanan's assertion that the public would not back Democrats if they pushed for a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. An August 3 CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans backed a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.