In its first respective programs following media reports indicating Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Mark Kirk had made false statements about their military service, Fox News' Special Report devoted nine times as much coverage to Blumenthal's misstatements as it did to Kirk's. Special Report also reported that Blumenthal's statements were "offensive" and his candidacy is "finished."
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Special Report gives Kirk story one-ninth of the time provided for Blumenthal story
Special Report gives Blumenthal story 3 minutes 13 seconds of coverage the day after it broke. On May 17, The New York Times reported that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the state's Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, had made comments about his service in the Marine Corps Reserve that were "plainly untrue."
Special Report devoted 3 minutes and 13 seconds to the story in its next edition on May 18.
Special Report devotes 21 seconds to Kirk military service comments in first show after story broke. On May 29, The Washington Post reported that Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, "has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s." The Post wrote that Kirk "acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a single individual annually."
Special Report devoted 21 seconds to the story on May 31, in the program's first edition after the story broke.
Special Report provides time for opponent to call Blumenthal comments "offensive"
Special Report coverage includes attacks on Blumenthal. In a segment, correspondent Laura Ingle reported that then-Republican Senate candidate Rob Simmons "said Blumenthal's past remarks are a big mistake" and quoted him stating, "I find it offensive that he is still wrapping himself in the veteran flag of those of us who served in Vietnam." Ingle also reported that "critics ... say that they don't understand how he could have made such a mistake being -- having such a sharp legal mind and being a wordsmith by trade and never correcting the record." Additionally, during the "All-Stars" segment, A.B. Stoddard stated of Blumenthal: "I really think he's finished. When he stands there and says he will not allow a few occasions when he misrepresented his service as Vietnam veteran to impugn his actual record, it's impugned his credibility and his legitimacy as a candidate. I think his candidacy is finished. I can't imagine he recovers from this."
Special Report's Kirk coverage includes no statements from critics. By contrast, in its first edition after the Kirk story broke, Special Report did not provide comments from Kirk's Democratic opponent or any other "critic," even though such criticism was included in the Post's article. Instead, in the program's sole coverage of the story, host Bret Baier stated:
BAIER: The Republican Senate hopeful in Illinois is admitting that past claims about his military service are not true. Congressman Mark Kirk concedes he never was the Navy's intelligence officer of the year, despite what his congressional and campaign website said. He says his Navy unit was named unit of the year in 1999.