Media figures are falsely claiming that Obama is "backtracking" on his comments regarding a planned Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. But the president's statements on the issue have consistently emphasized, as Obama put it, a "commitment to religious freedom" and the legal right to build an Islamic center on a privately-owned site.
Cokie Roberts, May 23: "If I were a Democratic strategist, I'd tell him [Richard Blumenthal] to get out of the race. … Out, because I think that -- again, it's not a year for phonies. And -- and people are going to hold this against him. "
Associated Press, May 27: "Poll: Blumenthal still popular among Conn. voters"
Douglas Schwartz, Quinnipiac University poll director, May 27: "It looks like Connecticut voters forgive Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, or feel that there is nothing to forgive in the Vietnam service flap."
Quinnipiac, May 27: "By a 53 - 35 percent margin voters are satisfied with his explanation. Blumenthal leads [GOP candidate Linda] McMahon on every character measure."
Rasmussen Reports, June 3: "Democrat Richard Blumenthal apparently has weathered charges that he exaggerated his military service in Vietnam for years and is running as strongly as ever against both his Republican challengers in Connecticut's race for the U.S. Senate. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Connecticut finds Blumenthal with 56% support versus 33% for Linda McMahon, the officially endorsed GOP candidate."
Maybe reporters should focus a little more on reporting what has happened and a little less on trying to predict how people will react.
From the June 21 edition of ABC's This Week:
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On ABC's This Week, NPR's Cokie Roberts falsely claimed that following his interview with The New York Times, President Obama "call[ed] the reporter back to say, you know, I -- basically, I am not a socialist." In fact, in the follow-up call, Obama criticized the Times' question, stating, "It was hard for me to believe you were entirely serious about that socialist question." Obama later said: "I think that it's important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we've actually been operating in a way that is entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can't say the same."
On NPR, Cokie Roberts asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's vacation to Hawaii "makes him seem a little bit more exotic," and characterized Hawaii as "a somewhat odd place to be doing it," despite also asserting, "I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there." Roberts previously criticized Obama on ABC's This Week, stating that Obama's vacation in Hawaii "has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."
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Responding to a question about whether Sen. John McCain was "maintaining the endorsement" of controversial televangelist John Hagee. NPR's Cokie Roberts asserted: "Well, he says that it was a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement. So I -- what does that mean? I don't know if that means that he has -- maintains it or not." In fact, when asked if he "no longer want[ed]" Hagee's endorsement, McCain stated: "I'm glad to have his endorsement."
On ABC's This Week, while discussing the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, Cokie Roberts asserted that Sen. John McCain is "even or winning in the polls." On MSNBC Live, Reuters' Jon Decker similarly stated that McCain is "running either ahead of both" Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "or running even with both of them." But neither Roberts nor Decker mentioned that in that same poll, both Clinton and Obama beat McCain in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups.
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.
On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts asserted that it would be "a disaster for the Democratic Party" and would lead to "chaos" if businessman Ned Lamont were to defeat Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary on August 8, thereby "pushing the party to the left" and sending a message to other senators that "[t]he only smart thing to do here is play to your base." However, as Sam Donaldson noted, opposition to the war is not simply playing to the base, "it's playing to the country," since the majority of the American public opposes the war in Iraq.