In the absence of any actual allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several media figures have in recent days ominously asserted that a "cloud" hangs over Obama because of the Blagojevich scandal, or that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.
On Hannity & Colmes, discussing reports that "Senate Candidate 5" in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rob Blagojevich is a reference to Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Sean Hannity asserted that Jackson "gave an emotional -- and he gave a very passionate defense of his conduct here" and that "he came off as very credible and believable to me." Hannity added, "[B]ut there's always a skeptical side of me. You know, in the back of my mind I hear that voice, 'I did not have sex.' You know, I hear Bill Clinton."
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On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly claimed that "[t]he Army Field Manual bans any questioning that would make a suspect uncomfortable in any way," echoing his previous assertion that "[t]here is no interrogation under the manual. No unpleasantness." In fact, the Army Field Manual includes an entire section on "Interrogation Operations," as well as a chapter listing and describing "Approach Techniques and Termination Strategies" for use in interrogations of detainees, including several techniques intended to make detainees "uncomfortable."
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that under President George W. Bush, "We created 10 million new jobs, lower unemployment than in the last four decades' average." In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has gained 2,866,000 net private-sector jobs between 2001, when Bush took office, and the first quarter of 2008.
On Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris revived the myth that Sen. Hillary Clinton became a New York Yankees fan only after she decided to run for the Senate, saying: "What I've always hated about Hillary is the phoniness. 'I'm from New York.' 'I'm a Yankee fan.' 'Oh, I love to chug-a-lug.' 'I'm a hunting -- or a hunter.' You know, all of this absolute garbage that you know isn't true."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
Sean Hannity falsely asserted that President-elect Barack Obama "talked about in the campaign cutting tens of millions of dollars in defense spending" when, in fact, Obama said he would cut "tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending." Hannity also asserted that Obama said "[h]e's not gonna weaponize space, slow development of Future Combat Systems" and that he would "set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons" without noting that former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and other prominent GOP figures have advocated similar positions.
On his radio and television programs, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented. In fact, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2001.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris predicted that Sen. Hillary Clinton would challenge President-elect Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in the 2012 presidential election. But some of Morris' past attempts at political prognostication have been wildly off the mark. Morris' latest prediction is also inconsistent with his assertion in April that "[o]bviously, if Obama beats [Sen. John] McCain, Hillary is out of the picture until 2016."
Again downplaying President-elect Barack Obama's victory, Karl Rove claimed on Today that the "call for change gave Barack Obama the presidency of the United States with 2.1 percent more than Al Gore got." In fact, in 2000, Gore received 48.38 percent of the popular vote, and according to unofficial election results posted on National Public Radio's website, Obama has received 52.7 percent of the popular vote, which is a difference of 4.32 percentage points.
On The Live Desk, Trace Gallagher falsely claimed that autoworkers for "the Big Three" earn "73 bucks in wages and benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the $73-an-hour figure is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity asserted that Al Franken is "trying to steal the election" because the Franken campaign "has been trying to challenge ballots that are clearly for Norm Coleman." Hannity subsequently aired several examples of ballots contested by Franken. However, Hannity did not display any of the published examples of ballots that the Coleman campaign has challenged that appear to be marked for Franken or another candidate besides Coleman.
Fox News hosts, reporters, and contributors have repeatedly provided or echoed the claims of only opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers the right to form or join a union if a majority of workers sign a card stating they want to unionize. Absent from numerous reports and discussions on Fox News is the argument made by proponents of EFCA that under the current system, employers often fire union supporters and pressure employees to vote against unionizing.