On April 22, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart highlighted two recent reports concerning national security that have been largely ignored by most television news outlets and NPR: a New York Times article reporting that "the Bush administration has used" media military analysts, many of whom have clients with or seeking Pentagon contracts, "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks"; and a Government Accountability Office report that found that the "United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA."
During a CBS report purporting to discuss what "leads a candidate to exaggerate or be hyperbolic about his or her record," Time magazine's Joe Klein was quoted stating: "John McCain doesn't need to exaggerate his biography. It's a spectacular biography. But he does exaggerate the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq." In fact, McCain's campaign has reportedly admitted McCain made at least one false claim about his "record," when he stated that "I'm the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go." In reality, McCain never called for Rumsfeld's resignation. Further, he has admitted to making a false statement regarding Iran's involvement in training members of Al Qaeda and has repeatedly distorted the positions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Blogs on MSNBC.com and CBSNews.com noted that Sen. John McCain planned to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, the 40th anniversary of King's death. However, neither reported that in 1983, McCain voted against establishing a holiday honoring King.
A CBS Evening News report on the national debt, the current level of which both anchor Katie Couric and correspondent Anthony Mason described as "mind-numbing," failed to quote a single Democrat and did not point out the extent to which deficit spending by Republican-led Congresses has contributed to the debt.
In a report on "powerful men who cheat and the women who stand stoically by them," CBS News' Nancy Cordes aired a clip of The Washington Post's Sally Quinn saying, "I can only think that ambition, their own personal ambition, is part of why they stick by these men, because they are accomplished women in their own right. And so, why would a Hillary Clinton or a Silda [Wall Spitzer] stand by her man and allow herself to be humiliated unless there was something in it for her?"
Both the CBS Evening News and NBC's Nightly News repeated accusations by Sen. John McCain regarding Sen. Barack Obama's statements on Pakistan and his commitment to use public financing in the general election, without offering a response from Obama or assessing the accuracy of McCain's allegations.
While discussing a New York Times article about Sen. John McCain's relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist, CBS Early Show host Harry Smith did not challenge McCain campaign manager Rick Davis when Davis asserted that McCain "is probably most feared by every lobbyist in this town of Washington"; he did not note that Davis is a registered lobbyist who, the Times reported, "represented companies" before McCain's committee.
Reporting on Republican presidential candidates' final days of campaigning before the Florida primary, Kelly Cobiella of CBS and John Berman of ABC both noted that John McCain criticized Mitt Romney for attacking opponents who "are moving up and succeeding." Neither, however, reported that McCain has been airing attack ads against Romney even while denouncing negative campaigning.
CBS' Nancy Cordes reported that Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney aired Spanish-language campaign ads in Florida, but at no point did Cordes note that Giuliani has said that English proficiency should be a requirement for citizenship, or that Romney has said that "English needs to be the language that is spoken in America."
The CBS Evening News and CNN's The Situation Room noted Sen. John McCain's opposition to displays of the Confederate flag, but did not report that during the campaign for the South Carolina Republican primary in 2000, McCain had equivocated on whether the flag should fly atop South Carolina's state Capitol. Nor did the reports mention McCain's subsequent admission his equivocation "was an act of cowardice" and that he had "broke[n] [his] promise to always tell the truth" in order to try to "win the South Carolina primary" in 2000.
In their coverage of the Michigan Republican primary, numerous media outlets and personalities praised Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain as a "maverick" who has challenged his party. However, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, on several major issues, McCain has taken positions consistent with those of his party.
In contrast with ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News, the CBS Evening News has so far ignored the allegations of Jamie Leigh Jones, who has claimed that she was gang-raped by fellow employees of Kellogg, Brown and Root inside the Baghdad Green Zone in July 2005 and subsequently held under armed guard in a trailer after reporting the incident. Both ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News reported on Jones' testimony and alleged attack.
Responding to a question from CBS' Katie Couric, Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Iran is moving toward accomplishing the worst nightmare of the Cold War -- nuclear weapons in the hands of an irresponsible regime. And then they're threatening the use of these weapons." Although the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concluded with "high confidence" that Iran had "halt[ed]" its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Couric did not challenge Giuliani's assertion or ask him a follow-up question about his answer.
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked Mitt Romney "why he didn't spend more time explaining the tenets of his Mormon faith in his speech last week." Romney replied: "I can't imagine doing that in a speech as you're running for president. ... [T]hat would really open the door to the kind of religious test where people would listen and say, 'OK, do I believe that?' " He later stated that "[n]o religious test should ever be required for qualification for office in these United States." But Couric did not note that Romney has repeatedly asserted that Americans "want a person of faith to lead them."