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In two days, a Republican strategist's baseless suggestion that Nancy Pelosi could fall victim to "a coup in Congress" spread from his Politico.com op-ed to all three cable news channels, TheFoxNation.com, a New York Times blog, and the print edition of The Wall Street Journal.
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A Media Matters analysis found that since the day after President Obama's inauguration, broadcast and cable news figures have been stating that Obama's "honeymoon" is "over" or questioning whether it is, rendering the cliché all but meaningless. During this period, media figures have suggested Obama's "honeymoon" is "over" with respect to "some ... die-hard Republicans," the media, African-Americans, Cuban President Fidel Castro, "Republican critics of his economic recovery plan," and economists.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Ari Fleischer's false claim that President Obama has a "proposal to eliminate deductions" for charitable donations and housing-related expenses. In fact, Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget proposal includes a provision to reduce to 28 percent the rate at which families earning more than $250,000 a year can take deductions for charitable donations, housing-related expenses, and other itemized deductions.
On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer did not challenge a Republican talking point repeated by Rep. Eric Cantor that the cost of the omnibus appropriations bill and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amounts to $24 billion a day, a billion dollars an hour." That calculation is based on dividing the costs of the two bills over 50 days. But as Time's Michael Scherer noted, "[t]he omnibus is a spending bill to run the government over the course of an entire year. ... The stimulus will be paid out over several years, with most of the money going out the door over the next 18 months."
On The Situation Room, Tony Blankley and Wolf Blitzer mischaracterized President Obama's call back to The New York Times following an interview during which Obama was asked if he was a "socialist." Blankley asserted that Obama originally "answered and didn't like his answer and called back," to which Blitzer replied, "To clarify, to clarify." In fact, Obama explicitly made the point during the initial interview that he was not a "socialist"; rather, in his follow-up call, Obama criticized the Times' question.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer teased a segment by saying, "Hillary Clinton's power grab -- at least some are calling it that. The secretary of state wants to take back resources that she feels rightfully belong to her department." During the report, Jill Dougherty stated: "Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail, this time to take back power and resources for the State Department." However, neither noted that President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both supported expanding the role of the State Department.
Media figures have claimed or suggested that President-elect Barack Obama is only now admitting that he may have to scale back his campaign agenda as a result of the weak economy. In fact, Obama repeatedly said prior to the November 2008 election that some policies he proposed on the campaign trail might need to be delayed because of economic conditions.
The Washington Times' Tara Wall said regarding the selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation: "The fact is most Americans, most Californians, oppose gay rights. This is reflective of the nation." Wolf Blitzer interjected: "Not gay rights, but same-sex marriage." Wall responded: "Excuse me, same-sex marriage. This is reflective of the nation as a whole." But simply characterizing Warren's position on same-sex marriage as mirroring that of most Americans, Wall and Blitzer ignored Warren's degrading comments about same-sex marriage and his mischaracterization of Proposition 8.
Several media outlets touted President Bush's purported candor during an ABC interview with Charles Gibson in which Bush said the "biggest regret" of his presidency was the "intelligence failure" regarding the absence of WMD in Iraq and declined to "speculate" whether the administration would have invaded Iraq if the intelligence had shown no WMD. But none of these reports noted the substantial evidence that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq regardless of the available intelligence, or mentioned the substantial uncertainty about the evidence the administration cited in support of the war.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that a union autoworker "makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to automakers -- which GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees.
Since initial reporting that President-elect Barack Obama was considering naming Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, many in the media have raised the specter of personal and political "drama" -- which they claim follows Hillary and Bill Clinton wherever they go -- negatively affecting the Obama administration. The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page acknowledged that the media are hoping for "drama" resulting from a Clinton appointment; Page responded to the question of how Obama is "going to keep the drama at bay" by saying: "Well, do we want that? We're journalists."
Days after CNN's Jeffrey Toobin asserted that the media are "being kind of gullible in falling for" Sen. John McCain's announcement that he was going to suspend his campaign, and noting that McCain "didn't suspend his campaign," Wolf Blitzer asserted as fact, not for the first time, that McCain "temporarily suspend[ed] his campaign."