In recent days, some members of the conservative media have seen signs of the Apocalypse in the escalated conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. Pat Robertson has considered the possibility but has seemed to reject it, while columnist Hal Lindsey has simply asserted: "Now Armageddon looms large before us." But as recent reports on CNN and in USA Today attest, conservatives are not the only media figures to raise the question of whether current events are a sign of the "End Times."
Following a recent trend of portraying bad news for President Bush as a blessing in disguise for Republicans and the White House, various news outlets and media figures have uncritically echoed the Bush administration's claim that the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah represents a "leadership opportunity" for Bush.
Wolf Blitzer and CNN national news correspondent Jeanne Moos noted that "pundits, politicians, comics, and radio talk show hosts" have begun to talk of World War III in the wake of the onset of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. While Moos's segment included clips from programs that satirized the trend of conservatives referring to World War III or World War IV, both Moos and Blitzer stated that the question of whether World War III had begun was "serious."
In their coverage of President Bush's recent veto of embryonic stem cell legislation, The New York Times and CNN reported that Bush also signed a bill that day banning "fetal farming" -- creating embryos or fetuses specifically for use as a source of cells or tissue. But neither noted that "fetal farming" is neither being carried out, nor is it "under serious scientific consideration," as National Public Radio's Julie Rovner reported.
Lou Dobbs claimed that "[i]f the Heritage Foundation [hadn't gotten] involved," a recent immigration bill passed by the Senate "would have approved 100 million immigrants into this country." But independent analysts have questioned the methodology and results of a Heritage study to which Dobbs was referring; the study claimed that the Senate bill would allow more than 100 million people to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years.
CNN's Daryn Kagan and John King repeated two falsehoods frequently advanced by conservatives to attack former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, former CIA operative Valerie Plame: that Wilson "did say in one television interview, and ... intimated in some others, that the vice president had sent him to Niger" to investigate reports that Iraq had sought to purchase yellowcake uranium from that country, and that the Senate Intelligence Committee found that Plame "sent" Wilson on the trip to Niger.
On CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer allowed Human Events Online editor Terence P. Jeffrey to repeat Robert Novak's claim that the Bush administration official who originally disclosed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to Novak "had done it inadvertently." In fact, Novak has been inconsistent about the motivations of his sources and the explanation for the inconsistency.
CNN correspondent Brian Todd became the latest to discuss the recent allegations regarding Ann Coulter, who is accused of plagiarizing at least three passages in her recent book, Godless, as well as portions of several columns. Coulter reportedly refused to appear for the CNN segment.
Following President Bush's claim on Larry King Live that the United States had a functional missile defense system, numerous media outlets reported his statement without challenge. By contrast, a report on NPR's Morning Edition noted that the missile defense system "has been plagued with technical problems" and has never been thoroughly tested, citing Government Accountability Office reports that indicate the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.
Now that right-wing pundit Ann Coulter has been accused of numerous instances of plagiarism, will the many media outlets on which she has made recent appearances to promote her latest book continue to provide her with a platform to shout her twisted rants, and if so, will they confront her with these charges?
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
After featuring a segment in which he purported to explain why his CNN Headline News show "doesn't talk more about politics," Glenn Beck declared: "You get stupid people voting, you know who's president? John Kerry. No, I'm kidding." The following day, Beck stated that Democrats are now "so Hollywood in their approach, it's like they don't even understand the heartland of America." He later added that "I like George W. Bush," and vouched that Bush will "do what it takes to keep us safe and our families safe."
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In a commentary on CNN.com, Focus on the Family's James C. Dobson criticized senators who voted against a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage for "turn[ing] their backs" on the "most basic social institution" and mischaracterized the debate to baselessly suggest that there is strong public support for the amendment. But while some recent polls indicate that most Americans believe same sex marriage should be illegal, that was not the issue before Congress.
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Recent reports on the reported activation of the U.S. ground-based missile defense system have overstated its ability to defend against an actual attack and uncritically reported administration claims about its effectiveness. Government Accountability Office reports indicate that the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.