Despite Sen. John McCain's numerous flip-flops, reversals, backtracks, and inconsistencies, the media continue to describe him with words such as "honest" and "authentic." Is there anything John McCain could do that would cause the media to stop portraying him as a "straight talker"?
During their August 9 coverage of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary, the three major broadcast networks' morning news programs interviewed Sen. Joseph Lieberman but failed to host the winner, Ned Lamont, or any of his representatives. Additionally, NBC's Today and CBS' The Early Show aired twice as much footage of Lieberman's statements following the election as they ran of Lamont's statements.
On NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer let Newt Gingrich repeat and promote his claim that current fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, with what Gingrich reported as a fear of Hezbollah attacks elsewhere, amounts to World War III. Despite media reports that Gingrich intends to promote the World War III rhetoric to give Republicans an edge in the 2006 congressional elections -- and that he is also urging President Bush and congressional Republicans to use war rhetoric for political gain -- Lauer failed to question the validity or motivation of Gingrich's characterization.
Interviewing author Ron Suskind, whose new book found the Department of Homeland Security to be "nonexistent" and "basically a joke," NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer asked Suskind if he risks "emboldening our enemies" by "talking about some of the weaknesses in policy and procedure" in the U.S.
During his interview with Bill O'Reilly, NBC Today host Matt Lauer joined O'Reilly in serving up conservative misinformation to Today viewers. In questions he posed to O'Reilly, Lauer suggested that Democrats would play a "dangerous" "troop withdrawal game" in Iraq, and that if detainees were released from the U.S. prison facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay and went on to commit terrorist acts, "we've got an international Willie Horton on our hands."
Following the White House Correspondents' dinner, numerous news outlets trumpeted President Bush's performance at the event, but entirely ignored the scathing routine delivered by the night's featured entertainer, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. In his act, Colbert mocked the White House's current woes, slammed a wide range of Bush administration policies, and lampooned the mainstream media.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer and retired Gen. Michael P. DeLong falsely suggested that the seven retired generals who have recently advocated for Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation "have a problem with his personality" but "can't say that he's incompetent." In fact, at least two of the generals have specifically cited incompetence as a reason Rumsfeld should resign or be fired.
Just days after the Democratic Party released a national security plan, CNN host Wolf Blitzer and NBC Today host Matt Lauer simply ignored the release and allowed -- and even encouraged -- Republican guests to suggest the Democrats have no "agenda." This continues patterns by CNN and Today of largely ignoring the Democrats' security plan, despite repeatedly reporting or commenting on the Democratic Party's purported lack of clear alternatives to the Republicans.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Republican strategist Mary Matalin's assertion that "[w]e have taken out the Al Qaeda network. We've decimated it." Matalin's claim was misleading at best; in fact, news reports indicate that the Al Qaeda network has continued to operate.
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert if President Bush's record-low approval numbers are "in some ways a blessing in disguise for Republicans ... [b]ecause, basically, they can look and say, 'Look, I don't have a popular president here. I can turn my back on that president, or even oppose that president going into these elections and stem the tide of this voter anger.' "
One day after NBC's Katie Couric chided Howard Dean for saying that Democratic lawmakers received no campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, Matt Lauer said that "technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct." In fact, Dean was correct and Couric was wrong.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Sen. John McCain's misleading claims that "members of Congress -- including Democrats -- were briefed" on President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program "and there didn't seem to be ... any public outcry until recently." In fact, of the seven Democratic lawmakers known to have been briefed on the domestic spying program prior to its disclosure by The New York Times, three have said they objected privately at the time, and three more have said they weren't given adequate information about the program. Moreover, these lawmakers could not have raised "any public outcry," because the briefings were classified.