On November 6, all three major network evening news broadcasts pointed to "new polling" to assert that the midterm elections are "tightening." In doing so, these outlets ignored several polls released during the same period that indicate the gap between Democrats and Republicans is stable or widening.
Additional portions of the interview of Dick Cheney showed ABC News' George Stephanopoulos letting Cheney repeat the administration's self-serving and dubious assertions on Democratic tax plans, Iraq, and the economy, including the oft-repeated Republican talking point that if Rep. Charlie Rangel were to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, "you would see a major tax increase."
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos prompted Cheney to again blame the recent upsurge of violence in Iraq on an insurgent "strategy" to "influence" the midterm elections, asking Cheney if "that mean[s] that a Democratic victory is a victory for the insurgents," not mentioning the administration's recent pattern of attempting to extract political benefit from the ebb and flow of violence in Iraq by claiming success in both increases and decreases in levels of violence in Iraq.
On October 31, the network news led with coverage of the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke," downplaying a story on the U.S. military's accession to an order by Iraqi's prime minister to dismantle checkpoints around Sadr City that were part of an effort to locate a missing U.S. soldier. The Los Angeles Times ran the Kerry story on the front page of its print edition, relegating the story on Sadr City to Page 10.
Numerous news outlets -- including the Los Angeles Times, ABC, CNN, and CNBC -- uncritically reported President Bush's false claim that Democrats oppose "listening to," "detaining," "questioning," and "trying the terrorists." In fact, Democrats have repeatedly acknowledged the need to eavesdrop on, detain, question, and try terrorists, while objecting to specific Bush administration antiterrorism policies that they consider to be violations of current U.S. or international law, or unwarranted expansions of presidential powers.
George F. Will falsely claimed that Republican National Committee chairman (RNC) Ken Mehlman "was appalled" by a controversial RNC ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. that critics have characterized as racist. In fact, Mehlman has repeatedly defended the ad as "fair." Will also asserted that the economy "is just objectively good," joined by Time's Jay Carney, who asserted that real wages have been "coming up a little bit lately"; in fact, even though productivity has expanded by 14 percent since November 2001, real hourly wages have remained largely unchanged.
ABC News political director Mark Halperin falsely suggested that while progressive 527 organizations with ties to the Democratic Party attacked President Bush during the 2004 election, there were no comparable groups on the right. But one of the most prominent 527 groups in the 2004 election cycle was the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, a group with ties to both the GOP and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign whose attacks on Democratic candidate John Kerry -- which included numerous false and discredited allegations -- received broad coverage in the media.
On Good Morning America, Sean Hannity accused Michael J. Fox of, as host Diane Sawyer put it, "shilling" for Democrats, claimed without elaboration that Fox's campaign ad in support of Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill contained "factual inaccuracies," and baselessly defended Rush Limbaugh's accusation that Fox was "exaggerating the effects of the disease" in the ad. Similarly, on The O'Reilly Factor, Culture Campaign president Sandy Rios falsely claimed that Fox was "lying" in his advertisement.