Many in the media have proclaimed the GOP the winner in the "stimulus message war" over President Obama and congressional Democrats. But they often do so with no self-reflection or acknowledgment of their cohort's role in advancing the Republicans' side in the debate through the credulous repetition of falsehoods and other Republican talking points.
In an online chat, Jonathan Weisman claimed of the finding that Sen. John McCain voted in line with President Bush 90 percent of the time, "The 90 percent figure is true, but I cover Congress. The vast majority of those votes are procedural, and virtually every member of Congress votes with his or her leadership on procedural motions." In fact, Congressional Quarterly's finding that McCain had voted with Bush 90 percent of the time was based on an analysis of "votes where the editors of Congressional Quarterly determined that President Bush had taken a clear position prior to the vote." CQ did not indicate the "vast majority" of the votes were procedural.
The Washington Post reported that "[a]bortion foes are now accusing [Sen. Barack] Obama of being an abortion-rights extremist" and purported to give the views of both the proponents and opponents of the "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act," which Obama voted against as an Illinois state senator. But at no point did the Post note that the Illinois Department of Public Health had reportedly said that the alleged conduct the Post identified as having been the impetus for the bill was already illegal.
The Washington Post reported that McCain aide Mark Salter said Sen. John McCain would not "tolerate" racially tinged attacks. According to the article, Salter noted that McCain "denounced" Bill Cunningham's controversial remarks about Sen. Barack Obama and that he "criticized" an ad by the North Carolina GOP. But the Post did not challenge Salter's claims: In fact, the McCain campaign reportedly invited Cunningham to a rally despite his history of controversial remarks, and McCain reportedly did not take steps to stop the ad from airing.
Several media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and The Washington Post, have uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's speech attacking Sen. Barack Obama for "outlining a plan" for Afghanistan and Iraq before his upcoming visit to the region without noting that in the same speech, McCain outlined his own "Comprehensive Strategy For Victory In Afghanistan," but hasn't visited that country since December 2006.
Several media reports falsely claimed that Wesley Clark criticized Sen. John McCain's military service during a June 29 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, including CNN anchor John Roberts, who said that "Clark took a weekend hit at McCain, targeting his history as a war hero and his possible future as president." In fact, Clark praised McCain as "a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war."
The Washington Post asserted that "Republicans tarred [Al Gore] in 2000 as someone who claimed to have discovered the Love Canal disaster and invented the Internet." But the Post did not note that the Love Canal smear was based on a falsehood originating in The New York Times and The Washington Post itself, nor did it note that Gore never claimed to have "invented the Internet."
Responding to a question about the presidential candidates and the release of their tax returns, The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman stated in a discussion on washingtonpost.com: "[Sen. Barack] Obama has released his tax returns, and I think [Sen. John] McCain has too." In fact, McCain has not released his tax returns.