Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans. Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.
Noting news reporting that MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews is considering running for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Democratic strategist Phil Singer asserted in a blog post, "If Chris Matthews is seriously considering a run ... he shouldn't be on the air right now." Singer went on to ask: "How could he do an interview with [Democratic Pennsylvania Gov.] Ed Rendell?" Indeed, Matthews has repeatedly gushed over Rendell during interviews with the Pennsylvania governor or when speaking about him on MSNBC throughout the past year.
MSNBC's David Gregory reported Gov. Sarah Palin's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama has been "palling around with terrorists" without noting Palin's distortion of The New York Times article she used to make her claim, or that the Obama campaign issued a statement rebutting the claim.
On Race for the White House, David Gregory aired a clip of Michelle Obama saying, "People shouldn't make a decision this time based on, 'I like that guy.' Or, you know, 'She's cute.' " Afterward, Gregory baselessly asserted, "She was talking about Governor Palin." At no point during the segment did Gregory note that Obama followed that comment by saying, "I'm talking about me."
On Race for the White House, McCain campaign senior adviser Nicolle Wallace said: "I never hear anyone put it to the Obama campaign, the internal deliberations that they may have gone to when they made the strategic decision to essentially fillet an American hero, a former POW, on the stump every day, which is what comes out of their candidate's mouth every day on the stump." David Gregory did not challenge this suggestion that McCain's status as an "American hero, a former POW" should insulate him from criticism of his policy proposals and Senate record.
Pat Buchanan criticized the McCain campaign attack ad that refers to Sen. Barack Obama's "celebrity," but said "there is a truth behind all this." Touting Dana Milbank's falsehood-laden Washington Post column as "credible," Buchanan said, "[W]ho is he and who ... the heck does this guy think he is, is becoming a real issue for Barack Obama."
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Recalling previous media attention given to Sen. Hillary Clinton's laugh, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said to Air America Radio's Rachel Maddow: "[Y]ou might support Obama, but you've got the Clinton cackle down, Rachel. I'm proud of you."
NPR's Renée Montagne, MSNBC's Pat Buchanan, and CNN's Bill Bennett all referred to the National Journal's 2007 Vote Ratings, which ranked Sen. Barack Obama the most liberal senator that year, without noting the subjectivity of the ratings. The National Journal based its rankings not on all votes cast by senators in 2007, but on "99 key Senate votes, selected by NJ reporters and editors, to place every senator on a liberal-to-conservative scale."
On MSNBC's Race for the White House, host David Gregory, like NBC colleagues Tim Russert and Chris Matthews, suggested that it is not possible for the media to adequately cover both the Democratic primary race and Sen. John McCain. Gregory stated, "John McCain has not gotten a lot of scrutiny right now because we've had an historic Democratic race to contend with, but does that necessarily hold up as we go along?"
Beginning on the afternoon of April 23, MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN aired a controversial ad by the North Carolina Republican Party attacking Sen. Barack Obama and two Democratic gubernatorial candidates at least 22 times combined, in most cases also noting that Sen. John McCain denounced the ad. As media figures on MSNBC and CNN pointed out, the repeated broadcasts benefit the North Carolina Republican Party, which does not have to pay for them, and they presumably benefit McCain, even as he is credited with taking the high road for criticizing the ad.
After Chuck Todd acknowledged a media double standard in coverage of Sen. John McCain's Al Qaeda-Iran gaffe, CNBC's John Harwood asserted on Morning Joe: "I think that at the end of the day, John McCain has got sufficient credibility on that issue that people are not going to look at that and say, 'Oh, John McCain is confused' or 'John McCain's too old' or 'John McCain doesn't get it.' ... But he obviously can't do that too many times or he's got a problem." Harwood was not alone in misrepresenting or excusing McCain's false claim on MSNBC; several MSNBC reporters and anchors have ignored or excused McCain's false claim.
MSNBC's David Gregory did not challenge Republican strategist Mike Murphy's false claim that "Barack Obama's talked about paratroopers in Islamabad, for heaven's sake." In fact, Obama has stated that "[i]f we have actionable intelligence about high-level Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan's border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot." A Media Matters review found no examples of Obama calling for dropping "paratroopers in Islamabad" or anywhere else in Pakistan.