CNN hosted Republican advertising consultant Alex Castellanos -- creator of racially charged advertisements for former Sen. Jesse Helms -- who echoed the myth invoked by the Bush administration that there was a link between the September 11 attacks, perpetrated by Al Qaeda, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In fact, the 9-11 Commission report stated: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
On Your World, Neil Cavuto said of Sen. Barack Obama: "Well, one of the reasons why he espoused talking to our enemies -- much as Jimmy Carter has with his recent meeting with Hamas and all that -- is that we can't make things worse, so what's the harm in talking to them?" Contrary to Cavuto's suggestion that Obama has expressed a willingness to meet with Hamas, Reuters reported on March 3 that Obama "has said he would break with President George W. Bush's stance of declining to talk to some other international adversaries but that stance does not apply to Hamas."
Bill O'Reilly again misrepresented comments he made in 2005 about a possible terrorist attack on San Francisco, stating on his Fox News show: "I made a joke out of San Francisco. If they didn't want the military, then the next time there was a terror attack, they're on their own." In fact, O'Reilly had said: "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."
On April 22, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart highlighted two recent reports concerning national security that have been largely ignored by most television news outlets and NPR: a New York Times article reporting that "the Bush administration has used" media military analysts, many of whom have clients with or seeking Pentagon contracts, "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks"; and a Government Accountability Office report that found that the "United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA."
After airing several reports in February highlighting Sen. John McCain's assertion that "if we left [Iraq], [Al Qaeda in Iraq] wouldn't be establishing a base ... they'd be taking a country," CNN has yet to follow up by noting that McCain reportedly does not believe that assertion. According to The New York Times, "[f]ew, including Mr. McCain, expect Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia [Iraq], a Sunni group, to take control of Shiite-dominated Iraq in the event of an American withdrawal."
On Fox News, Dick Morris falsely asserted: "Hillary Clinton in the 1980s was on the board of a foundation group called the New World Foundation that gave money to the PLO, which at the time was identified as a terror organization." In fact, the New World Foundation reportedly did not "g[i]ve money to the PLO."
On Studio B, after Dan Gerstein noted that Sen. John McCain "confused Sunni and Shia," Shepard Smith asserted, "[I]t's not as if he misspoke three times about the exact same thing, about gunfire in Bosnia." In fact, McCain made the admittedly false claim that Iranian operatives were training Al Qaeda for fighting in Iraq three times over the course of two days.
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.
CNN's The Situation Room and a Wall Street Journal article both noted that, during a Senate hearing, Sen. John McCain asked Gen. David H. Petraeus about whether Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQ-I) is a "major threat," without also noting that McCain went on to ask of Al Qaeda in Iraq: "Certainly not an obscure sect of -- of the Shiites all -- overall?" In fact, AQ-I is a Sunni Muslim, not Shiite, group.
In a report on Sen. John McCain, NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell referred to McCain's "statesman-in-waiting trip overseas last month to pump up his international image," but did not note that, during the trip, McCain made the admittedly false claim, more than once, that "Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq." O'Donnell also did not mention that the trip included a fundraiser in London.
The Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain voiced concern about Iran allegedly training "militants" and sending them to fight in Iraq, while CNN.com's Political Ticker reported that McCain had referred to "Iraqi extremists" being trained by Iran. In fact, McCain did not refer generically to "militants" or "Iraqi extremists"; he claimed that Iranian operatives are "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back" to fight U.S. troops in Iraq, a misstatement that Washington Post reporters Cameron W. Barr and Michael D. Shear wrote "threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists."
A Washington Times article distorted Sen. Barack Obama's comments about targeting terrorists in Pakistan, falsely claiming that Obama "urg[ed] the Bush administration to conduct air strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan without its approval."
In a USA Today article reporting on Sen. John McCain's "critique" of Sen. Barack Obama, Susan Page wrote that McCain was "ridiculing comments Obama has made" and quoted without challenge McCain's false assertion that Obama "once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan." In fact, in an August 2007 speech, Obama stated: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will."
Referring to the expiring revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Fox host Chris Wallace asserted that when Sen. John McCain "gets on the campaign trail and says, 'Look, here is a law that was going to provide the tools for the United States to be able to intercept communications of people who want to kill us and Congress went home, the Democratic Congress went home on a break' -- that's going to be a pretty effective weapon to use against the Democrats in the fall." In fact, contrary to Wallace's suggestion, the government has "the tools" to "intercept communications" of suspected terrorists.
On Hannity & Colmes, Alan Colmes asked Ann Coulter, "Why do you keep emphasizing his [Sen. Barack Obama's] middle name as if you're trying to associate him with Saddam Hussein?" Coulter replied, "Because I think it's funny." During the interview, Coulter referred to Obama as "B. Hussein Obama" twice and injected: "Get ready for President Hussein, and let's start planning for the next president."