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The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy.
In a report on the recent resignation of Kirk Fordham, the former chief of staff of Rep. Tom Reynolds, Fox News' Carl Cameron mimicked Dennis Hastert's characterization of alleged emails from then-Rep. Mark Foley to underage male former congressional pages as "overly friendly." As Media Matters for America has noted, Hastert has described the alleged emails as "over friendly" to justify why the House Republican leadership did not investigate Foley's behavior when it was first informed of the alleged emails.
Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.
Fox News' Carl Cameron claimed that during the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary election, Sen. Joseph Lieberman "has done very well" in "some of the more blue-collar cities, New Haven [and] Bridgeport." In fact, Lieberman lost in New Haven and won narrowly in Bridgeport.
In yet another example of the false storylines currently being perpetuated by the media in their coverage of the 2006 midterm elections, Fox News' Carl Cameron reported that Democratic opposition to the war in Iraq "plays right into Republican hands" and gives the Republican Party "an opportunity to say that Democrats aren't being serious about protecting the United States, protecting the world, and stopping terrorism."
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Reporting on the 2006 Minnesota Senate campaign between Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy and Democrat Amy Klobuchar, Fox News' Carl Cameron falsely compared the results of "recent polls" that "gave Klobuchar a double-digit lead" with "the latest Zogby Internet poll [which] shows Kennedy within seven points." But the "Zogby Internet poll" Cameron cited is not a "scientific" poll of randomly selected participants.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Carl Cameron stated that the House of Representatives had approved a Voting Rights Act extension "overwhelmingly." However, Cameron failed to note that a majority of House Republicans had supported four amendments to the bill that would have weakened the legislation or possibly prevented its passage.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Carl Cameron falsely suggested that public opinion polls show that most Americans support amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. While some recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be illegal, most polls that directly addressed a federal constitutional amendment show that a plurality or even a majority of Americans oppose it.
Continuing a pattern in the media of uncritically repeating Republican attacks on Democrats over the Iraq war and national security and simply adopting GOP talking points characterizing the actions of Democrats, Fox News' Carl Cameron asserted that being "the anti-war party" puts Democrats in "a very tenuous position" and leaves the party open to "Republican criticism that they're a bunch of cut-and-runners."
Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron suggested that "the idea that so many Democrats are complaining about the NSA programs without really knowing what they are is precisely why so many Republicans say Democrats just aren't serious about security."
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Fox News' Carl Cameron misleadingly suggested that "Senate Democrats, along with a handful of moderate Republicans" were to blame for adding billions of dollars in spending projects to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hurricane relief, and bird-flu preparedness.
Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke both obscured the role the White House played in the display of the "Mission Accomplished" banner that appeared behind Bush on May 1, 2003, when he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Cameron referred to the banner as a "Navy banner," while Clarke claimed "it's still a matter of debate" who printed and put up the banner, despite a 2004 report that a White House spokesperson confirmed that White House staff had the banner made.
In reporting on President Bush's announcement that he would suspend fuel deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to reduce rising gasoline prices, numerous news outlets failed to note that Bush had previously criticized both the Clinton administration and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for proposing to use the reserve to lower prices.
Fox News journalists and commentators repeatedly -- and baselessly -- cited a correction issued by CIA leak case special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald as evidence that the Bush administration had not "hyp[ed]" prewar intelligence and that reporters had "wrongly accuse[d]" President Bush of directing I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to provide false information to reporters about Iraq's supposed nuclear program to justify the decision to invade Iraq.