The Washington Post, NBC, and ABC all uncritically covered Sen. John McCain's attack on the Clinton administration's North Korea policy, in which he argued that the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea had been a "failure." All of these outlets ignored the fact, however, that the Clinton White House successfully prevented North Korea from producing any plutonium for eight years.
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.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, National Review contributor editor David Frum baselessly suggested that Democrats, unlike Republicans, "have the impulse to protect and shield their own when their own are guilty," comparing the Democrats' response to allegations that Rep. William Jefferson accepted bribes with the Republican leadership's handling of the Foley matter to make his point.
During separate interviews with former Clinton officials Gov. Bill Richardson and William Cohen, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked them to respond to what "some Republicans" are saying, that President Clinton was "duped" or committed a "huge blunder" in his negotiations with North Korea. By contrast, in his interview with Bush administration official Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state, Blitzer did not ask Hill to respond to Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's North Korea policy.
In their coverage of the Foley scandal's political effects, numerous media figures have suggested that conservative Christians are most likely to react negatively to the Foley scandal. In doing so, they presume that so-called "values voters" are more concerned than others with protecting children.
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Pat Buchanan baselessly asserted that there is "a large element of hypocrisy" in comments by an aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that if "we had seen Mark Foley's inappropriate emails or instant messages to House pages, we would have immediately acted to protect the kids" because Pelosi "has marched in gay pride parades in which they've had floats of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which wants to eliminate all age of consent laws." Buchanan also called Foley a "flamer" and baselessly connected Democratic criticism of the handling of the Foley scandal to opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay scoutmasters.
During his interview with Virginia Democratic Senate candidate James Webb, CNN's Wolf Blitzer repeatedly pressed Webb about his position on women serving in combat and a 1979 article, in which he wrote that a U.S. Naval Academy* residence hall is a "horny woman's dream." By contrast, during his interview with Webb's Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. George Allen, Blitzer did not press Allen on his "aspersions" or "macaca" comments.
In several reports on the dispute between the FBI and Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington over the agency's handling of the emails that led to the Foley scandal, CNN has failed to explore inconsistencies in the FBI's claims about its investigation of the emails or lack thereof.
CNN's Joe Johns and National Public Radio's Ken Rudin declared that portions of a political ad by Minnesota Democratic congressional candidate Patty Wetterling, claiming that "[c]ongressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children," were false. But neither Rudin nor Johns noted that admitted actions by members of the House Republican leadership arguably had the result of a "cover-up."
Following House Speaker Dennis Hastert's press conference, numerous media outlets trumpeted the news that Hastert took "responsibility" for the Mark Foley scandal but ignored his later statement, during that same press conference, that "I haven't done anything wrong."
A CNN.com article falsely reported that former Rep. Mark Foley "resigned last week after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group, posted some of the e-mails he exchanged with [a] former male page in 2005." In fact, as ABC News' Brian Ross, who broke the story, noted, Foley "resigned ... hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18."
CNN continued to uncritically report the assertion that Democratic operatives knew "all along" of Rep. Mark Foley's alleged communications with former congressional pages. As Media Matters for America has noted, that notion is contradicted by other media reports.
Media outlets that uncritically reported House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) recent claims -- that Democratic operatives knew "all along" of Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) alleged behavior toward underage congressional pages and have orchestrated the ongoing scandal -- ignored media reports that the source for Foley's emails was a Republican.