MSNBC anchor Melissa Slager falsely claimed that one of the three House members who resigned this year because of ethical scandals was a Democrat; in fact, all three who resigned over the past year were Republicans. MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell presented a "scandal scorecard" noting that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) "is facing a Senate ethics probe," overstating the amount of profit Reid allegedly made in the deal and ignoring a transaction in which House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) reportedly made an even bigger profit on the sale of land near a highway project for which he reportedly included an earmark in a transportation bill.
Chris Matthews made false, misleading, and baseless claims regarding Democratic tax policy, fiscal responsibility, and public opinion of Democratic credibility on taxes, claiming that "Democrats cannot match" Republicans "on the issue of taxes" and that if "you put a Democrat in there, they're gonna raise your taxes."
The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy.
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MSNBC's Chris Matthews baselessly claimed that "Democrats don't get and better damn get someday" that budget deficits are a "moral issue," and that it is "fairly predictable" that "Democrats will come in and start raising taxes."
In a weblog post, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported that two Republican senators told Sen. Joseph Biden that they plan to "break with the White House Iraq strategy," but only after the midterm elections. Only three other media outlets have reported the disclosure.
In their coverage of the Foley scandal's political effects, numerous media figures have suggested that conservative Christians are most likely to react negatively to the Foley scandal. In doing so, they presume that so-called "values voters" are more concerned than others with protecting children.
Pat Buchanan baselessly asserted that there is "a large element of hypocrisy" in comments by an aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that if "we had seen Mark Foley's inappropriate emails or instant messages to House pages, we would have immediately acted to protect the kids" because Pelosi "has marched in gay pride parades in which they've had floats of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which wants to eliminate all age of consent laws." Buchanan also called Foley a "flamer" and baselessly connected Democratic criticism of the handling of the Foley scandal to opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay scoutmasters.
On Hardball, Chris Matthews allowed Republican Reps. Jack Kingston and Patrick McHenry to offer up conspiracy theories about purported Democratic involvement in the Foley scandal, challenging their claims only occasionally. In addition, Matthews did not host a Democrat or progressive to balance the discussion.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has not been entirely consistent on when he learned about electronic communications that then-Rep. Mark Foley allegedly sent to underage pages. And Hastert's position on his handling of the scandal has changed in at least two other respects. But NBC News correspondent Mike Viqueira claimed that Hastert has "largely stuck by his story that he didn't learn about the emails and the IMs and the rest of it until last Friday."
John Fund disputed the assertion of a correlation between "the approval ratings of [President] Bush [and] the ratings of Fox News" by baselessly claiming that "Bush's ratings are up, and Fox [News]'s ratings are down." In fact, while Fox News ratings are indeed down, so are President Bush's.
Norah O'Donnell failed to correct Republican strategist Brad Blakeman's false claim that Rep. Barney Frank "admitted" to "running a prostitution ring out of his townhouse." In fact, a House investigation cleared Frank of such allegations in 1989.