Keith Olbermann granted Sean Hannity second runner-up of his nightly "Worst Person" award for complaining that the media and the Bush administration were not "paying attention to what was the biggest story in the lead-up to the [Iraq] war": the discredited claim by Sen. Rick Santorum and House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra that a recently declassified intelligence report found that there were "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq prior to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Loading the player leg...
On MSNBC's Hardball, Norah O'Donnell questioned the sincerity of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's recently initiated hunger strike, asking her: "Isn't this really just more of a publicity stunt?" During the discussion of Sheehan's two-month protest, the on-screen text read: "Starving for Attention." O'Donnell also presented a distorted version of Sheehan's position on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Norah O'Donnell baselessly asserted that prior to President Bush's recently expressed openness to the House immigration bill, Bush "has been straight on this issue. ... He has been consistent on this issue, which is we have to be compassionate -- this is the part of [being a] 'compassionate conservative' -- to those illegal immigrants in this country." In fact, House Judiciary Committee chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. had accused Bush of "turn[ing] his back" on House Republican efforts on immigration after initially advocating some of the House bill's harshest provisions.
Loading the player leg...
Discussing charges of plagiarism against Ann Coulter, Keith Olbermann wondered whether Coulter had attacked former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who resigned from the Times amid allegations that he fabricated facts and committed plagiarism. A Media Matters for America review produced several examples of Coulter attacking Blair for plagiarism and repeatedly invoking the disgraced reporter to attack the Times and score conservative political points.
Now that right-wing pundit Ann Coulter has been accused of numerous instances of plagiarism, will the many media outlets on which she has made recent appearances to promote her latest book continue to provide her with a platform to shout her twisted rants, and if so, will they confront her with these charges?
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell wrongly claimed that, in a hypothetical presidential campaign between President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bush would win because Clinton has "a question about likability and authenticity and a sense of trust." In fact, public opinion polls indicate that Clinton has a higher favorability rating and is viewed as more trustworthy than Bush, and their likability ratings are roughly equal.
On Hardball, Chris Matthews left unchallenged White House communications director Nicolle Wallace's claim that "there is no way" The New York Times could discuss "terrorists already knowing about" a Treasury Department finance-tracking program reported by the Times and other newspapers "unless they're talking to terrorists." In fact, the Treasury Department's efforts to track terrorist finances by obtaining international banking records were already a matter of public knowledge prior to the publication of the Times article.
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
Loading the player leg...
On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, ABC's John Stossel attacked former Vice President Al Gore and delivered a stream of false and misleading claims on global warming. Noting that Gore "implies the argument" about global warming "is over," Stossel repeatedly attempted to downplay, obscure, or deny the threat posed by human-induced global climate change, as depicted in Gore's documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. In fact, the vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that human activity is contributing to the problem.
In response to the reports describing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity, President Bush and other White House officials lashed out at the media -- and The New York Times in particular -- for purportedly undermining the government's antiterrorism efforts. But as with the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance and domestic call-tracking programs, the administration and its supporters in the media have relied on numerous false and misleading claims to support their arguments.
Chris Matthews failed to challenge Rep. Peter King's false claim that The New York Times is "acknowledging" that a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions "is legal." However, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has stated that "[i]t's not [the Times'] job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal." The Times has also reported that banking experts, as well as banking executives and Bush administration officials familiar with the program, have concerns about its legality.
Bill O'Reilly railed against The New York Times' disclosure of a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, falsely claiming that "by all accounts" the program is "entirely legal" and that "[n]obody is asserting that they [the Bush administration] overstepped their authority." Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter similarly asserted that "no one thinks" the program "violates any laws." In fact, some legal experts and politicians have indeed questioned the legality of the newly disclosed program.