FOX News Channel anchor Greg Jarrett practically pleaded with his Republican guest, Craig L. Fuller (chief of staff under former Vice President George H.W. Bush), to repeat a Bush-Cheney '04 attack on the Democratic National Convention: that the public face Democrats will present at the convention is an "extreme makeover" of the party's true nature. When Fuller didn't take the bait, Jarrett picked up the slack and repeated the RNC line himself.
Jarrett began his interview on the July 26 edition of FOX News Live with guests Fuller and Howard Wolfson (former communications director for Senator Hillary Clinton) by quoting from a July 25 article by Washington Times chief political correspondent and columnist Donald Lambro, who wrote, "The Democratic strategy [at the convention] will be to portray the candidates as political centrists to appeal to independent, swing voters who are uncomfortable with their leftist voting records on national security and domestic-spending issues." (Lambro has made misinformation a habit, as Media Matters for America documented on July 16 and May 3.)
After quoting Lambro, Jarrett asked Wolfson, "[A]ssuming that is true, is this an extreme makeover in the form of a hard right turn to the center by John Kerry?" Wolfson rejected Lambro's analysis, which Jarrett had immediately adopted, asserting instead that "there is no extreme leftist voting record to make over" and insisted that Senators John Kerry and John Edwards "come from the middle of our [Democratic] party." But when the GOP's Fuller similarly declined to give Jarrett the answer he sought, Jarrett asked him a second leading question:
JARRETT: And Craig, let me stay with you for a moment before I go back to Howard. Howard just said there's no evidence that John Edwards and John Kerry are liberal. Uh, would you like to take a different view?
When Fuller again did not take the bait, Jarrett interrupted him to inject the Bush-Cheney '04 talking point himself:
JARRETT: I thought you were gonna name the two prominent Democratic groups that gave John Kerry the most liberal rating in the U.S. Senate, and I think Edwards came in fourth.
As Media Matters for America has documented, the Republican National Committee -- aided by conservatives pundits -- has labeled Edwards the "fourth most liberal" U.S. senator based on a National Journal rating of only his 2003 voting record; according to National Journal, Edwards's lifetime voting record places him squarely in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
As Sarah Binder, Thomas Mann, and Alan Murphy of the Brookings Institution wrote in a July 26 op-ed in The New York Times, Republicans have mislabeled Kerry as well. Binder, Mann, and Murphy cited an analysis of Kerry's lifetime record revealing that while Kerry falls in the liberal half of his party, he is still "closer to the center of the Democratic Party than he is to the most liberal senators."