In reporting on Sen. John McCain's October 16 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, several media outlets noted McCain's response to a question about his association with Watergate break-in figure G. Gordon Liddy that Liddy "paid his debt, he went to prison." However, none of these outlets noted other controversial actions by Liddy, which McCain did not mention, let alone denounce, on Letterman's show, including multiple instances of reportedly advising his radio show audience on the best way to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents -- statements that were reportedly made long after Liddy left prison.
USA Today reported that a Vets for Freedom ad "says [Sen. Barack] Obama missed nearly half the Senate's votes but showed up 'to vote against emergency funding for our troops' " and went on to assert: "Obama and [Sen. John] McCain each have voted for bills that include troop funding. Obama said he opposed one such bill in May 2007 because it did not set a timetable for removing U.S. troops from Iraq." However, USA Today did not report that McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Numerous media outlets quoted or aired all or part of a statement Sen. John McCain made criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for giving a "political speech" in Berlin while "a candidate for the office of the presidency," but none noted that McCain himself gave a "political speech" in a foreign country last month, speaking to the Economic Club of Toronto in Ottawa, Canada, on a trip paid for by his presidential campaign.
In an article about appearances by Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama at the LULAC conference, USA Today reported that McCain "began placing more of an emphasis on border security during the primaries." But McCain's current position "to secure the borders first" is not just a change of "emphasis"; it is at odds with his prior position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of immigration reform without being rendered ineffective.
A USA Today article quoted Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Sen. John McCain, who said, "Unlike Barack Obama, John McCain believes in keeping his word to the American people, and he will undergo public financing for the general election." But the article did not note that while the McCain campaign, through Bounds, now says McCain will not opt out of public financing because he is "keeping his word to the American people," McCain himself previously indicated that his decision over whether to take public financing if Obama opted out would depend not on "keeping his word" but on whether it would be financially prudent to do so. Indeed, McCain senior adviser Charlie Black reportedly said, "We could sit down in July or August and say, 'Hey, we're raising a lot of money and maybe we should forgo it.' ... We don't have enough data."
USA Today uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain "noted" that Sen. Barack Obama "was once named the most liberal senator by National Journal magazine." But USA Today did not report that McCain himself "did not vote frequently enough" to receive a rating. Further, USA Today did not report that the National Journal ranking was based on 99 votes selected by the magazine's staff, a subjective methodology that Obama himself has criticized.
In contrast with The New York Times' 2004 analysis of the benefit Teresa Heinz Kerry gained from the Bush tax cuts, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and The New York Times did not note, following the May 23 release of a summary of her 2006 tax returns, that Cindy McCain also benefited significantly from the tax cuts -- which Sen. John McCain has pledged to make permanent.
The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal have yet to report on Sen. John McCain's statement that "I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East, that will -- that will then prevent us -- that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East" [emphasis added]. Media Matters offers questions for these news outlets to ask McCain should they decide to cover the story.
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.