The Republican National Committee's (RNC) new political ad -- featuring clips of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists making threats against the United States and clips of explosions -- has not yet aired as a paid advertisement, but broadcast and cable news networks have already played portions of it several times as part of their news programming -- essentially giving the RNC the opportunity to fearmonger on their airwaves free of charge.
CNN's Lou Dobbs and Fox News' Bret Baier reported on President Bush's visit to Pennsylvania to campaign for Rep. Don Sherwood and noted that Sherwood has acknowledged having an "extramarital affair." But neither Dobbs nor Baier mentioned allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress.
CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC dedicated a considerable amount of airtime to a purported threat to NFL stadiums in seven cities, despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI both characterized the threat as not credible. Further, with one brief exception, at no point was there any reference on any of the three channels to evidence that the Bush administration has used terrorism-related announcements for political gain.
In their news reports on President Bush's signing of the Military Commissions Act, The New York Times reported that the war on terrorism is a "winning issue for Republicans," and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux uncritically reported that the Bush administration believes national security is "a strong issue for Republicans" heading into the midterm elections. In fact, recent polling shows that more voters prefer Democrats to handle the issue of combating terrorism.
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CNN's Soledad O'Brien accused David Kuo, the former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under President Bush, of writing a "very political book," the timing of which was "[i]nteresting." But O'Brien ignored comments that Kuo and his former boss, John Dilulio, had previously made that are consistent with the claims made in the book.
CNN host and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz suggested that an account of the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley on Harper's magazine's website is evidence that "Democratic operatives" were "involved in spreading the story to the press" and may have had "partisan" reasons for doing so. But Kurtz ignored the evidence in the Harper's article leading to its author's conclusion with "absolute certainty" that "there was never a plan to undermine the G.O.P. or to destroy [House Speaker J. Dennis] Hastert personally," as well as ignoring a report by his own newspaper, The Washington Post.
Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has been inconsistent in his public statements about his relationship to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In recent interviews, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and U.S. News & World Report staff writer Will Sullivan passed up the opportunity to challenge Mehlman about these inconsistencies.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reported that President Bush "threw" Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) "a lifeline for the speakership" when Hastert "came out publicly, taking responsibility" for the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley, but she ignored recent comments by Hastert that undermine his assertion that he is "taking responsibility" for the scandal.
CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and the Washington Post editorial board devoted significant attention to "serious questions" surrounding a land deal involving Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, but both treated with relative nonchalance reports that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert made almost $2 million on the sale of land in Illinois after taking an active role in the passage of a transportation bill that included an earmark for a highway project near the property.