Several media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's recent efforts to highlight his Vietnam War experience as part of his presidential campaign without noting that, in 2004, he reportedly told Sen. John Kerry that Kerry should not use his Vietnam war record during his campaign, or that McCain falsely asserted in 2004 that he "didn't talk about" his own service during his 2000 presidential campaign "because," he said, "I didn't need to."
Media Matters has extensively documented the disparity in media coverage devoted to controversial comments made by supporters of Sen. Barack Obama and to those made by supporters of Sen. John McCain. Several major publications have reported only on the controversy over remarks by McCain supporter John Hagee targeting Catholics, but not his controversial statements about Hurricane Katrina, Islam, women, and homosexuality. Most of those same publications have yet to report on pastor Rod Parsley and his controversial remarks in the context of McCain's campaign.
Reports by ABC, USA Today, and CNN purported to contrast the positions of President Bush and John McCain on tax cuts by noting only McCain's initial opposition to Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. None of the outlets noted, however, that McCain has changed his position and now supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, or that McCain has repeatedly claimed that he initially opposed the tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts, reasoning he did not mention in his 2001 floor statement explaining his vote.
USA Today reported that Sen. John McCain has said he "want[s] to compete in California," and that McCain "say[s] his outlook on such issues as the environment will be a help in the traditionally blue state." But the article did not note that McCain trails both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama by more than 20 points in the most recent state poll or that McCain has a lifetime score of 24 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). USA Today published similar articles about the strategy of the Republican nominees in 1996 and 2000 -- elections in which the Democratic candidate defeated the Republican candidate in California by double digits.
In a USA Today article reporting on Sen. John McCain's "critique" of Sen. Barack Obama, Susan Page wrote that McCain was "ridiculing comments Obama has made" and quoted without challenge McCain's false assertion that Obama "once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan." In fact, in an August 2007 speech, Obama stated: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will."
A USA Today article stated that Sen. John McCain "has been criticized for supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but he has said he would focus on sealing the borders before taking up any other measures," falsely suggesting that McCain's current proposal to secure the borders first is consistent with his prior support for comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, McCain previously argued that border security could not be disaggregated from other provisions in legislation on comprehensive immigration reform, or else it would be ineffective.
A USA Today editorial falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama "provoked needless controversy in Pakistan when he said he'd invade to chase terrorists if the Pakistanis did not." In fact, Obama did not say he would "invade" Pakistan; rather, he said, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will."
Repeating the myth that social conservatives are the only political constituency that votes its "values," the January 24 USA Today twice referred to voters most inclined to support Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as "values voters." A front-page graphic claimed "Huckabee: Has drawn evangelicals and 'values voters,' " while an accompanying article noted that "Huckabee's strength is among just those kind of 'values voters' " who are "uncomfortable" with Rudy Giuliani.
A USA Today article described John McCain as "a maverick senator from the West" who has taken "maverick stands, including votes against Bush's tax cuts in 2001" and "his sponsorship last year of an immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in this country," while a USA Today editorial asserted that "McCain's chief sin, apparently, is that he has broken ranks on issues that include campaign finance, President Bush's tax cuts, illegal immigration and global warming." Neither the article nor the editorial mentioned that McCain has since shifted positions on the Bush tax cuts and immigration.
Numerous print media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's assertion following the Iowa caucuses that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that ... negative campaigns don't work." But none of those articles noted that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Mitt Romney.
Reporting on a House resolution stating that the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against the Armenian people, numerous print outlets noted President Bush's opposition to the measure. However, none of those outlets mentioned that as a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush sent a letter to the Armenian National Committee of America, according to a press release on the organization's website, in which he wrote that "[t]he Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension" and that if elected president, he "would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people."