On CNN Newsroom, Fredricka Whitfield advanced the false Republican accusation that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the economic recovery act, asserting that Sen. Chris Dodd was "widely criticized for allowing the bonuses in the first place." In fact, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, and the Bush Treasury department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place. Furthermore, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from TARP to award bonuses in the future.
A Media Matters analysis found that since the day after President Obama's inauguration, broadcast and cable news figures have been stating that Obama's "honeymoon" is "over" or questioning whether it is, rendering the cliché all but meaningless. During this period, media figures have suggested Obama's "honeymoon" is "over" with respect to "some ... die-hard Republicans," the media, African-Americans, Cuban President Fidel Castro, "Republican critics of his economic recovery plan," and economists.
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Recently, the media have highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew," or otherwise given credence to the accusation that the president has loaded his agenda with unrelated items when he should be focusing on the economy. In many instances, the media have simply run teasers to this effect, reinforcing the idea without challenge; in other cases, they have highlighted the accusation, while also providing responses by the Obama administration.
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Several media reports have noted that Sen. Judd Gregg cited concerns about the census in a press release announcing that he was withdrawing his nomination for secretary of commerce. But those reports ignored Gregg's subsequent statement during a press conference that the census was "not a major issue" in his decision to withdraw.
Discussing reports that President-elect Barack Obama is considering naming Sen. Hillary Clinton secretary of state, several media figures have responded with smears, including speculation that Clinton would pursue her own agenda as secretary of state and not Obama's, references to Clinton as Obama's "enem[y]," and speculation that Obama is considering the nomination because if Clinton remains in the Senate, she poses a threat of challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012 and can "mak[e] trouble" for him in the Senate.
CNN anchor Kyra Phillips presented a report by correspondent Joe Johns on an ad in which Sen. Elizabeth Dole accused Democratic opponent Kay Hagan of taking money from "a leader of the Godless America PAC" at "a secret fundraiser" and that included a woman's voice saying, "There is no God," while a picture of Hagan appeared onscreen. But while Johns and Phillips noted that Hagan has indicated an intention to file a defamation lawsuit, they did not note that in accusing Dole of defamation, Hagan cites the ad's false suggestion that the voice is Hagan's.
On CNN Newsroom, Jeanne Meserve stated that "[Sen. John] McCain, who twice sponsored immigration reform legislation, blames [Sen. Barack] Obama and the Democrats for its defeat in one of his [Spanish-language] ads, though many analysts say both parties bear responsibility." However, Meserve did not note that McCain has since abandoned his support for the immigration bill he co-sponsored, saying during a January Republican presidential debate that he would no longer vote for it if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
Uncritically repeating Sen. John McCain's mischaracterization of Sen. Barack Obama's tax plan, CNN's Dana Bash stated that McCain has "been saying, basically, Barack Obama and the Democrats are going to raise your taxes; I'm going to lower your taxes." But Bash did not note that Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income taxpayers, or that McCain's own chief economic policy adviser has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."
MSNBC's Alex Witt and CNN's T.J. Holmes each suggested that Sen. Barack Obama is prematurely "measuring the drapes" for the White House. In fact, Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all planned for a White House transition months before the election, and Sen. John McCain has also reportedly made transition plans.
CNN aired clips of what correspondent Jim Acosta called a "new ad from John McCain" that "makes one of the most explosive charges of the campaign, accusing Barack Obama of endangering American soldiers by voting to cut off funds for the war." Despite mentioning that Obama said in the September 26 presidential debate that "he opposed that bill because it lacked a timeline for troop withdrawal," Acosta failed to note Obama also pointed out that McCain himself has voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Syndicated columnist Debra Saunders and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck both falsely claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She has also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples.
On CNN Newsroom, Ali Velshi falsely claimed, "In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 40 of these [offshore drilling] platforms, but still no oil shed into the Gulf of Mexico because of that." In fact, a 2007 report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm identified damage from Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum products into the Gulf of Mexico.
With reports that Sen. John McCain had picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, sexist commentary on cable news followed. On CNN, John Roberts raised the question of whether as vice president, Palin would be able to devote the time necessary to care for her baby with Down syndrome, and on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd suggested that Sen. Joe Biden bears the burden of having to adjust his behavior in a vice-presidential debate because of Palin's sex.