FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron suggested that the Bush-Cheney '04 and Kerry-Edwards '04 campaigns have been roughly equal in launching negative attacks on their opponents. The truth: At last count, the Bush-Cheney campaign had run more than three times as many TV attack ads than had Kerry.
From the July 19 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume:
CAMERON: Kerry and Edwards both, almost every day accuse the Bush-Cheney campaign of waging a personally negative attack campaign. And there have been independent studies that suggest that both sides have been particularly nasty already, and it's only going to get more nasty as the general election nears.
Contrary to Cameron's claim that "both sides have been particularly nasty," the only "independent studies" Media Matters for America found suggest that the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign has been much more negative than has Kerry-Edwards '04 -- at least when it comes to TV ads. (MMFA's search turned up no "independent studies" quantifying campaign negativity in other areas.)
On June 8, under the headline "Bush Campaign Cranks Up Attack Ads on Kerry," the Los Angeles Times cited data from the nonpartisan media consulting group TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group showing that 70 percent of Bush's 70,000 ads in the prior three months were "critical of Kerry," compared with only 25 percent of Kerry's 56,000 ads that "mention Bush." That's 49,000 negative ads from Bush, compared with only 14,000 from Kerry. Both USA Today ("Bush leads in negative ads, but Kerry has help") and The Washington Post ("From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity") have documented a similar trend while citing earlier data.
While Cameron did not mention this data, he did go on to declare that "potentially a new threshold has been reached" by Kerry supporter and former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), who held a July 19 conference call with reporters harshly criticizing President George W. Bush.