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NBC's 'Fact Check' on Palin's False Claims Not So Damning --9/18/2008


1. NBC's 'Fact Check' on Palin's False Claims Not So Damning
Two weeks after Sarah Palin's convention speech "reporters are still fact-checking what they hear from her, as our own Savannah Guthrie does for us tonight," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced Wednesday evening. But of Guthrie's five presumed misstatements by Palin, two were remarks made by Palin "aides," not Palin herself; one, the "Bridge to Nowhere," was already dissected eight days ago on the same newscast; and on another, how previous VP nominees have not met foreign leaders, Guthrie didn't disprove Palin's contention. Up first, how Palin asserted "my job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Guthrie pounced: "She's wrong. Alaska accounts for only 3.5 percent of America's total energy production, 7.5 percent of oil and gas." Unmentioned by NBC: How the Alaska Resource Development Council's Web site has stated: "Alaska's oil and gas industry" accounts "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production."

2. ABC Grills McCains on Abortion; Skipped Issue with Obamas
Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer on Wednesday grilled Cindy and John McCain about differences in the couple's position on abortion and the subject of overturning Roe V. Wade. And yet, when co-anchor Robin Roberts talked to Barack and Michelle Obama in May, she didn't raise the issue, instead wondering if the Illinois Senator would be prepared for all the negativity he would surely face as Democratic nominee. In fact, on at least seven appearances in 2008, no GMA host asked Barack or Michelle Obama about abortion and that includes skipping issues such as the Senator's controversial opposition to a bill that would have offered protection to babies who survive botched abortions. On Wednesday, Sawyer cited a CBS interview with Katie Couric in which Mrs. McCain stated her opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade. The journalist then interrogated: "And yet, Senator McCain you have indicated in previous interviews that you would like the repeal of Roe versus Wade so that the states can make their decisions. What's the difference in the two of your view of the issue?" Sawyer followed up: "But, Mrs. McCain, do you oppose the repeal of Roe versus Wade? Was that report correct?"

3. Roland Martin & Jeffrey Toobin: CNN's Resident Obama Spokesmen
Two segments on CNN's Election Center program on Monday and Tuesday evenings which aimed to fact-check political ads by the McCain and Obama campaigns were followed by panel discussions in which contributor Roland Martin (on Monday) and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin (on Tuesday) took active roles in denouncing the McCain ads as being filled with "lies" and "falsehoods." Martin accused McCain of "playing in the gutter" and repeating "constant lie after lie." The next day, Toobin stated that "John McCain has told outright falsehoods about Obama and sex education, about the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' about earmarks, about taxes, and the examples we cited in those Obama ads are not even close to the falsehoods that have been said about Obama by the McCain campaign."

4. Early Show Focuses on Palin 'Trooper-gate,' Leaves Out Key Facts
At the top of the 8am hour of Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on an ethics investigation into Sarah Palin's firing of an Alaska public safety official: "Sarah Palin and trooper-gate -- why the Alaska Governor makes an about-face on this issue and why it could haunt her on the campaign trail." Later, correspondent Chip Reid remarked: "Palin may be back here in Ohio campaigning, but she's still being hounded by the so-called trooper-gate controversy back in Alaska." Reid went on to describe the case: "Last July, Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He says he was fired because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a state trooper who went through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister...At first, Palin said she welcomed the investigation, but now the McCain-Palin campaign claims it's being exploited by Democrats for political reasons and says it's now unlikely she will cooperate. And the campaign says Monegan's firing had nothing to do with Palin's brother-in-law." However, Reid never went further to explain that new email evidence corroborates Palin's reason for firing Monegan or to describe the political motivations of those leading the investigation.

5. Limbaugh 'Inducer to Violence,' 'Sick' Palin 'Gutted' Sp Olympics
On Tuesday's Countdown show, Keith Olbermann referred to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly as "inducers to violence" as the MSNBC host, during the show's "Worst Person" segment, attacked conservative talk radio host Eddie Burke of Anchorage, Alaska, for making inflammatory remarks calling two women who organized a protest against Governor Palin "socialist, baby-killing maggots," and for giving out the womens' cell phone numbers to his audience leading the women to receive death threats. Olbermann suggested that Burke would fit in with Limbaugh or O'Reilly: "Mr. Burke, he got a paltry one-week suspension, and, no doubt, consideration to fill in some day for comedian Rush Limbaugh or Billow or some other of radio's inducers to violence." And during the show's regular segment, "McCain in the Membrane," the MSNBC host charged that it was "sick" for Palin to tout herself as an advocate for special needs children after she had, in Olbermann's words, "gutted" funding for the Alaska Special Olympics. Olbermann ignored findings by FactCheck.org that, as Governor, Palin secured a substantial increase in state spending for special needs children in the education system.

6. ABC's GMA Train Trip Finds Economic Misery and Desperation
This week Good Morning America has been touring America via train and finding economic misery and despair along the way. During the three special shows that have aired so far, which ABC has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," the program traveled to struggling towns in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. On Monday, while talking with an elderly man who had lived through the Great Depression, co-host Sawyer described him as someone who had survived "another time of economic crisis." (As a comparison, a quarter of the population was unemployed during the Great Depression. Unemployment today stands at just over six percent.) On Tuesday, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned the people of Rome, New York and their "tough times." "...Some of them are feeling hard times," she added. On Wednesday, near Gustavus, Ohio, Roberts reported from a small town that "is not booming." While visiting the "suffering town" of Niagara New York on Tuesday, Sawyer talked to parents at a high school hockey game and lamented, "There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river [to Canada] too and wonder about American leadership."

7. NY Times Architecture Critic Blames Reagan for Bridge Collapse
The New York Times' architecture critic praised communist China's Olympic infrastructure and compared such "planning" unfavorably to the Reaganite U.S.: "This kind of bold government planning died long ago, of course, a victim of both the public's disillusionment with the large-scale Modernist planning strategies of the postwar era and the anti-government campaigns of the Reagan years. The consequences were obvious as soon as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. And they have been reaffirmed many times since, with the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis and myriad accounts of our country's crumbling infrastructure."


NBC's 'Fact Check' on Palin's False Claims
Not So Damning

Two weeks after Sarah Palin's convention speech "reporters are still fact-checking what they hear from her, as our own Savannah Guthrie does for us tonight," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced Wednesday evening. But of Guthrie's five presumed misstatements by Palin, two were remarks made by Palin "aides," not Palin herself; one, the "Bridge to Nowhere," was already dissected eight days ago on the same newscast; and on another, how previous VP nominees have not met foreign leaders, Guthrie didn't disprove Palin's contention.

Up first, how Palin asserted "my job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Guthrie pounced: "She's wrong. Alaska accounts for only 3.5 percent of America's total energy production, 7.5 percent of oil and gas." Unmentioned by NBC: How the Alaska Resource Development Council's Web site has stated: "Alaska's oil and gas industry" accounts "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production."

Moving on, Guthrie cited how "campaign aides told a few reporters" Palin had visited Iraq when she really only went to Kuwait and "an aide also said Palin visited Ireland," but only because "her plane stopped at the airport to refuel." Quoting how Palin said that "if you go back in history...many Vice Presidents" would also have answered they had not previously met a foreign leader, Guthrie countered: "But historians say the facts tell a different story." She ran a soundbite from one historian, Michael Beschloss, who limited his review to how "since Pearl Harbor every single vice presidential candidate of a major party has had some pretty serious exposure to foreign leaders, with the exception of Spiro Agnew." So, there was Agnew and all those pre-1944 were left unaddressed.

Finally, the media favorite: "Palin initially supported the bridge and killed it only after Congress pulled its backing."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On energy production in Alaska, FactCheck.org reported on September 12 what Palin relied upon for the apparently exaggerated percentage:

When we asked the McCain campaign where the 20 percent figure came from, we were referred to the Web site of the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc, a group that says it promotes development of Alaska's natural resources. It states:

"Alaska's oil and gas industry has produced more than 16 billion barrels of oil and 6 billion cubic feet of natural gas, accounting for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production."

In a September 17 update, FactCheck.org added:

The Associated Press, in reporting on Palin's "inflated" energy claim, contacted the Alaska Resource Development Council and confirmed that its 20 percent figure is badly out of date. It quoted Carl Portman, the group's deputy director, as saying that the figure is an average for the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, which The AP noted was "long before Palin became governor at the end of 2006." Portman was quoted as saying his group "planned to update the site to make it more clear that the 20 percent figure is over a period of time."

And indeed, when we checked, the Web page had been changed to say that the state's oil and gas industry accounted "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production (1980 - 2000). Currently, Alaska accounts for nearly 15% of U.S. production."

The FactCheck posting: www.factcheck.org

Alaska Resource Development Council's page: www.akrdc.org

Williams introduced the story: "Hard to believe she made her convention debut just two weeks ago today in St. Paul...."

Eight days ago, he set up a September 9 story with the identical phraseology: "Hard to believe, it was just six nights ago Sarah Palin introduced herself to the GOP convention..."

The September 10 CyberAlert item, "CBS & NBC React to Palin Bounce with Fact Checks to Discredit Her," recounted:

Brian Williams set up the NBC Nightly News piece: "Hard to believe, it was just six nights ago Sarah Palin introduced herself to the GOP convention and to the TV viewing nation with a speech that really made her a star while containing several memorable applause lines. It's how a lot of people came to know her, they remember those stories and Governor Palin repeated them on the stump. But how do they all match up against the truth? Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers takes a closer look."

For that previous CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Wednesday, September 17 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Hard to believe she made her convention debut just two weeks ago today in St. Paul. Americans, after all, are still getting to know her. Reporters are still fact-checking what they hear from her, as our own Savannah Guthrie does for us tonight.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Her running mate has said she knows more about energy than anyone in America.
JOHN MCCAIN: She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.
GUTHRIE: And in her first television interview since being nominated, Sarah Palin herself said this:
SARAH PALIN: As the Governor of the state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy-
GUTHRIE: A remark she refined a bit this week.
PALIN: My job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas.
GUTHRIE: But no matter how you slice it, she's wrong. Alaska accounts for only 3.5 percent of America's total energy production, 7.5 percent of oil and gas. A campaign spokesperson now says the Governor was only talking about oil.
MEGHAN STAPLETON, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: When you look at the domestic oil production, we do supply 15 to 20 percent.
GUTHRIE: On overseas travel, did she or didn't she go to Iraq? Campaign aides told a few reporters she did. The McCain campaign later backtracked, saying she visited a border crossing with Kuwait, going briefly into Iraq. But the Alaska National Guard says Palin never entered Iraq at all. An aide also said Palin visited Ireland, but the campaign had to backtrack again. Yes, she'd been to Ireland. Her plane stopped at the airport to refuel. Another question about her foreign policy credentials, has she ever met with foreign leaders? Palin said this in the ABC interview: "I've not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer as I just gave you." But historians say the facts tell a different story.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Actually, if you look at history, since Pearl Harbor, every single vice presidential candidate of a major party has had some pretty serious exposure to foreign leaders, with the exception of Spiro Agnew.
GUTHRIE: And then there's that bridge in Alaska. As NBC reported-
PALIN: I support these infrastructure projects-
GUTHRIE: -Palin initially supported the bridge and killed it only after Congress pulled its backing. The state kept the money. But the McCain campaign continues to tout Palin's opposition to the bridge. This campaign ad aired just last night during network newscasts:
CLIP OF AD: She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere.
GUTHRIE: And it's a line Sarah Palin rarely misses an opportunity to repeat.
PALIN CLIP #1: -I did tell Congress thanks but no thanks-
PALIN CLIP #2: -thanks but no thanks-
PALIN CLIP #3: -thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere.
GUTHRIE: Even now, the bridge project isn't dead. At Palin's direction, Alaska's department of transportation is still considering alternatives to link the town of Ketchikan to its airport, including several bridge proposals, with federal earmark dollars. The McCain campaign has carefully controlled access to Palin, including during her stop here today in Michigan. But both sides are fiercely battling over her record. McCain has launched a Palin truth squad while Obama's team has assembled what it calls Palin Myth Busters. Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

ABC Grills McCains on Abortion; Skipped
Issue with Obamas

Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer on Wednesday grilled Cindy and John McCain about differences in the couple's position on abortion and the subject of overturning Roe V. Wade. And yet, when co-anchor Robin Roberts talked to Barack and Michelle Obama in May, she didn't raise the issue, instead wondering if the Illinois Senator would be prepared for all the negativity he would surely face as Democratic nominee.

In fact, on at least seven appearances in 2008, no GMA host asked Barack or Michelle Obama about abortion and that includes skipping issues such as the Senator's controversial opposition to a bill that would have offered protection to babies who survive botched abortions.

On Wednesday, Sawyer cited a CBS interview with Katie Couric in which Mrs. McCain stated her opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade. The journalist then interrogated: "And yet, Senator McCain you have indicated in previous interviews that you would like the repeal of Roe versus Wade so that the states can make their decisions. What's the difference in the two of your view of the issue?" Sawyer followed up: "But, Mrs. McCain, do you oppose the repeal of Roe versus Wade? Was that report correct?"
For the Couric interview, check the September 4 CyberAlert article, "Pegged to Palin, Couric Quizzes Cindy McCain on Abortion," online at: www.mrc.org

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Sawyer could argue that she was simply trying to get a clarification from the potential First Lady. But in a similar joint appearance by the Obamas, GMA reporters displayed no interest into delving into either the candidate or the spouse's position on abortion. During the May 19 interview, Roberts tossed softballs such as "What have you learned about yourself since that night in Iowa?" She also sympathized with Michelle Obama's attitude towards political attacks: "I like how you said people make things up and things that you go, like, huh?" See a May 20, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

(Barack Obama appeared by himself on Monday's show this week. The issue wasn't discussed then either.)

In February, GMA reporter Deborah Roberts also skipped the issue of abortion and celebrated Michelle Obama as "the spouse of politics' newest star." During the February 4 piece, she enthused that the couple "genuinely believe that people want to move beyond that [negative attacks], talk about something else." See a February 4, 2008 NewsBusters posting for more: newsbusters.org

Going all the way back to January of this year, when the presidential primaries were in full swing and voters could have been educated as to the nuances of differences between Obama and his opponent Hillary Clinton, GMA continued to ignore the issue of abortion while interviewing the Illinois senator.

On January 3, Sawyer focused instead on the issue of racism and wondered if, in Iowa, "people have shown they are willing to look beyond race in this country. Has that victory been won, whatever happens tonight?" See a January 3, 2008 NewsBusters posting for more: newsbusters.org

Later in the month, on January 23, Sawyer continued didn't mention this important social issue and plead for calm between Obama and his primary opponent: "We have heard a lot of people say they are exhausted by this charge, counter charge." See a January 24, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

Perhaps, since the militant abortion group NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) has given Barack Obama a 100 percent lifetime voting record for his time in the Senate, Good Morning America could ask him if his stance on the issue is in sync with the rest of the country. See NARAL page on Obama: www.prochoiceamerica.org

A transcript of the September 17 segment, which aired at 7:42am:

ROBIN ROBERTS: We are back in Gustavus, Ohio. It is our whistle-stop tour, day three. And good enough to join us, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his wife Cindy McCain. And it was cute when Diane asked you how many days left until -- you were quick, 48 days.
CINDY MCCAIN: 48 days. Who is counting? ROBERTS: Everyone seems to be counting. You're never far from your husband's side. Does he confide with you? Does he talk with you about the major issues and get your advice on some things?
CINDY MCCAIN: Certainly at the end of the day the issues are not what we're talking about. We usually are checking in with our children and things like that but certainly we talk, absolutely.
JOHN MCCAIN: I think we should have full disclosure. There is a critique.
CINDY MCCAIN: There is a critique. That's true. I was trying to be nice.
JOHN MCCAIN: Performance and those kinds of things.
DIANE SAWYER: How does she think you're doing?
JOHN MCCAIN: Sometimes I get mixed reviews and sometimes I deserve them.
SAWYER: If I could ask about one issue because we are here in the heartland and we keep hearing about a lot of social issues as we travel around here. And I wanted to clear up something, if I could. Because Mrs. McCain, CBS reported on Roe versus Wade that they had contacted your staff and that you had said that you do not, as Mrs. Bush has said, in fact, does not want the repeal of Roe versus Wade so that some states with outlaw abortion. And yet, Senator McCain you have indicated in previous interviews that you would like the repeal of Roe versus Wade so that the states can make their decisions. What's the difference in the two of your view of the issue?
JOHN MCCAIN: Well, let me just say this is all about courage and compassion. It's about changing the culture of America. I am pro-life and I support that position, and I know that Cindy does too and we need to ask young American women who are faced with this terrible decision that we will help them have the courage to bring a baby into this world and we'll have the compassion and help them in every way that they can address it. And it will be if Roe V. Wade is overturned, go back to the states and the states will make the decisions about it. So that's the issue here as to how we treat the issue of human life in America and it's got to be done with courage and compassion. And that's both of our positions.
SAWYER: But- But, Mrs. McCain, do you oppose the repeal of Roe versus Wade? Was that report correct?
CINDY MCCAIN: You know, there are people that are without jobs, that are hurting whose businesses have collapsed, who don't know where they're going to find money to feed their families. This is not the major issue on people's minds right now. What concerns me is when I talk to people like people today on this farm, people we had dinner with last night, they're having trouble making ends meet. A difference in how we stand on abortion or things like that are not what's foremost in the voters' mines right now, at all.
JOHN MCCAIN: So, look, this is an issue that we have to change the culture of America, those of us who respect the rights of the unborn. That's the thrust of our effort, and I'm happy to know -- to note that we are adoptive parents and it's enriched our lives and we hope that will also encourage others to do the same.
ROBERTS: You talked about that people don't want to get into personal issues. That doesn't help them. That they want to talk about the issues, but it has gotten very personal this particular time around, the campaign, on both sides. And a lot of people thought it was refreshing on 9/11 that no negative ads, you both, you and Senator Obama appeared at the presidential forum on community service, and can we make that kind of commitment? Why does it have to -- how does it serve anybody when it becomes so bitter?
JOHN MCCAIN: It doesn't. But I can tell you one way it makes it a lot better because I've been in previous campaigns. Have Senator Obama come to a town hall meeting with me. Let's go to town haul meetings all over America. Both of us stand before the American people. That's what Barry Goldwater and Jack Kennedy had decided to do. And I've asked time after time.
SAWYER: Does it feel like-
JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama, come to the town hall meetings with me. Have the people ask, we respond. I guarantee you that changes the tone of the campaign, because then people pay attention to the candidates. Not the back and forth. Not the surrogates, not the 527s and so I asked Senator Obama again. We've got 49 days left.
CINDY MCCAIN: 48.
ROBERTS: She's critiquing you, 48.
JOHN MCCAIN: 48. Let's go to the town hall meetings and then the American people will be focused on that. I don't know why he's refused to do that. Because when first asked he said he would go anywhere, any time so I hope that he will take up that request and I look forward to it. I'll fly with him. I promise not to fly the airplane.
SAWYER: Senator, the computer is going to cut us off in just a minute. We want to thank you so much for this morning and we have frozen you to death, Mrs. McCain we owe you one on that. We really do.
JOHN MCCAIN: Appreciate it.
SAWYER: It's great to see you.

Roland Martin & Jeffrey Toobin: CNN's
Resident Obama Spokesmen

Two segments on CNN's Election Center program on Monday and Tuesday evenings which aimed to fact-check political ads by the McCain and Obama campaigns were followed by panel discussions in which contributor Roland Martin (on Monday) and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin (on Tuesday) took active roles in denouncing the McCain ads as being filled with "lies" and "falsehoods." Martin accused McCain of "playing in the gutter" and repeating "constant lie after lie." The next day, Toobin stated that "John McCain has told outright falsehoods about Obama and sex education, about the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' about earmarks, about taxes, and the examples we cited in those Obama ads are not even close to the falsehoods that have been said about Obama by the McCain campaign."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On Monday's program, correspondent Randi Kaye examined some of the McCain campaign's ads. During her report, she tried to clarify a claim made by a McCain ad which slammed Obama for a bill that would reportedly "teach sex education to kindergartners:" "Did Obama really want to teach sex education to kindergartners? Not exactly. The program in question was intended to teach kids how to avoid sexual predators, says the non-partisan group, FactCheck.org."

However, as CNN contributor Alex Castellanos pointed out in the panel discussion which followed Kaye's report, "the draft bill which Obama supported when you look at the actually legislation.... [i]t had strong provisions against sexual predators, but it also had the SIECUS standards in there, which were 5 to 8-year-olds should be, you know, talking about body parts, lifestyles, and what feels good, and a lot of Americans think that that's going too far. Now, you know, whether he intended it or not, that's what he voted for and that's fair game."

SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., was founded by Mary Calderone, a former medial director of Planned Parenthood, in 1964, and has teamed up with the ACLU to oppose abstinence education in public schools and advocates "comprehensive" sex education which includes advocacy of masturbation for teenagers and tolerance of homosexual practices.

For SIECUS's own history brief, see "Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States History": www.siecus.org

For an April 26, 2007 press release which announced SIECUS's coalition with the ACLU, along with an organization called Advocates for Youth, see "ACLU, Advocates for Youth, and SIECUS Say Government Funded Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Materials Violate Federal Law": www.advocatesforyouth.org

For SIECUS's advocacy of "comprehensive sexuality education," see the September 9, 2003 Fox News report by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, "CDC-Funded Sex Ed Programs Draw Fire": www.foxnews.com

After Castellanos mentioned this detail, which was omitted from Kaye's report, Martin went on the offensive against the McCain campaign:

MARTIN: The bottom line is when you lie, you lie....What John McCain is doing is doing exactly what he said he did not like in 2000, and what he is saying is I'm going to sell my soul in order to win. And at one point he said he would never do that. But he knows he is playing in the gutter, and you can sit and talk about, you know, one issue about four million. But look, when you lie to say she went to Ireland -- it was a refueling deal, it's called a lie, not a fudge. Going to Iraq -- lie. This whole issue of sex education -- lie. When you talk about any -- it's constant lie after lie. And when you get called on it -- and I'm telling you something, Karl Rove there is smart. I think the reason Karl Rove made the comment yesterday, because he sees how this tide is turning. He knows, and if all of a sudden, if more members of the media begin to say lie, lie, lie, lie, it can backfire on McCain -- very smart by him to try to send a message.

Martin continued to use the "lie" term as he sparred with Castellanos until the end of the segment. In a move of honesty, host Campbell Brown stated at the end of the segment that "just in case anyone was unclear on this, Obama -- Roland is supporting Obama now. Alex Castellanos, obviously, a McCain supporter."

On Tuesday's Election Center program, senior correspondent Joe Johns fact-checked some of the Obama campaign's recent ads and followed Kaye's lead in giving an overall neutral examination. After his report concluded and a commercial break, Brown turned to Toobin for his take: "Jeff, I've got to start with you here because -- start with you here because I know that you think John McCain's exaggerations, falsehoods, whatever you want to call it, are far more extreme than Obama's." The senior legal analyst replied:

TOOBIN: We do a lot of parity here at CNN, and we match things up, but there is no comparison. John McCain has told outright falsehoods about Obama and sex education, about the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' about earmarks, about taxes, and the examples we cited in those Obama ads are not even close to the falsehoods that have been said about Obama by the McCain campaign.

Later in the segment, former Mitt Romney presidential campaign spokesman Kevin Madden brought up the issue of the specifics in Obama's sex education proposals just as Castellanos had, after senior political analyst Gloria Borger repeated the claim that the "legislation was about teaching children to recognize sexual predators:"

MADDEN: Well, the first thing you have to remember about that charge is that I think it even came up during the Democrat primary, and secondly, Byron York had a very lengthy examination of that charge today in the National Review that documents entirely what is in that bill, and it would be troubling to a lot of Americans to see that Barack Obama supported that.

Toobin brushed off the charge in response: "It was a bi-partisan, non-controversial program."

For Byron York's look at the accuracy of the McCain campaign ads on Obama's sex education proposals, see the September 16, 2008 National Review Online article, "On Sex-Ed Ad, McCain Is Right," at: article.nationalreview.com

Early Show Focuses on Palin 'Trooper-gate,'
Leaves Out Key Facts

At the top of the 8am hour of Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on an ethics investigation into Sarah Palin's firing of an Alaska public safety official: "Sarah Palin and trooper-gate -- why the Alaska Governor makes an about-face on this issue and why it could haunt her on the campaign trail." Later, correspondent Chip Reid remarked: "Palin may be back here in Ohio campaigning, but she's still being hounded by the so-called trooper-gate controversy back in Alaska."

Reid went on to describe the case: "Last July, Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He says he was fired because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a state trooper who went through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister...At first, Palin said she welcomed the investigation, but now the McCain-Palin campaign claims it's being exploited by Democrats for political reasons and says it's now unlikely she will cooperate. And the campaign says Monegan's firing had nothing to do with Palin's brother-in-law." However, Reid never went further to explain that new email evidence corroborates Palin's reason for firing Monegan or to describe the political motivations of those leading the investigation.

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the Wednesday 10am hour of FNC's America's Newsroom, co-anchor Megyn Kelly cited the new evidence: "...now we learn this morning that e-mails actually back up Palin's claim that Monegan was fired because of insubordination over budget issues and not having anything to do with that trooper issue." In a report that followed, correspondent Dan Springer explained: "Those e-mails are between the Palin budget director and her top cop, Walt Monegan. And they do seem to suggest that there were some problems brewing in this administration before Monegan was fired. Now the McCain-Palin camp is releasing those e-mails and making the case that Monegan was fired for insubordination, not because he refused to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law."

In addition to leaving out the newly released emails, the Early Show segment also failed to describe any of the allegations against trooper Mike Wooten. On America's Newsroom, Springer quoted McCain-Palin spokesperson Meg Stapleton: "This is a man who was out there, who has tasered his son, who's killed a moose illegally. Who's threatened to kill her father, who's abused her sister. She had the right to say, 'I have concerns about a guy who still patrols my neighborhood.'" Reid did quote Stapleton in his report, but only a brief statement regarding Monegan's firing.

Reid also failed to mention that one of the lead investigators in the case, Democratic State Senator Hollis French, remarked on the McCain campaign's vetting of Palin: "If they had done their job they never would have picked her...Now they may have to deal with an October surprise." See: a.abcnews.com

Reid concluded his report by proclaiming: "An investigation 4,000 miles away that could turn out to be a minor irritant or a serious challenge to Sarah Palin's reputation as a reformer."

Here is the full transcript of the September 17 Early Show segment in the 8am half-hour:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Sarah Palin and troopergate '€" why the Alaska governor makes an about-face on this issue and why it could haunt her on the campaign trail.

....

RUSS MITCHELL: There's new development in that investigation over whether vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin abused her power as governor of Alaska. Yesterday, the attorney general there said state employees will refuse to honor subpoenas in the case. CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Chip Reid reports.

CHIP REID: After a few days home in Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin was back with John McCain in Ohio Tuesday, where they promised to clean up Wall Street and Washington.
SARAH PALIN: That's the reason we're going to D.C., we want to shake things up.
REID: Palin may be back here in Ohio campaigning, but she's still being hounded by the so-called troopergate controversy back in Alaska. Last July, Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He says he was fired because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a state trooper who went through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister. The Alaska legislature launched a bi-partisan investigation to determine whether Palin acted improperly, using her office to settle a personal grudge. At first, Palin said she welcomed the investigation, but now the McCain-Palin campaign claims it's being exploited by Democrats for political reasons and says it's now unlikely she will cooperate. And the campaign says Monegan's firing had nothing to do with Palin's brother-in-law.
MEG STAPLETON: And everything to do with Commissioner Monegan's adamant refusal to join in Governor Palin's fiscal responsibility reform.
REID: Palin's husband, Todd, has also been subpoenaed in the case. So what does this all mean for her?
KEN VOGEL: Troopergate is a fairly small-time scandal, as far as scandals go, but has the potential to really seriously undercut the premise of Sarah Palin's candidacy. That is, that she is a reformer, who's looking to rid government of corruption.
REID: An investigation 4,000 miles away that could turn out to be a minor irritant or a serious challenge to Sarah Palin's reputation as a reformer. Chip reid, CBS News, Vienna, Ohio.

Here is the full transcript of the America's Newsroom segment:

MEGYN KELLY: Well, new evidence emerging in this story involving Governor Sarah Palin and this state trooper in Alaska. Some refer to this as 'trooper-gate,' others say it's not any sort of 'gate.' Well, Palin, here's the deal, she fired this man shown here. He's the head of the state police, his name is Walt Monegan. And she said that this guy got fired because of budget concerns, not because he refused to fire the state trooper who was once married to Sarah Palin's sister, if you can follow that. In any event, now we learn this morning that e-mails actually back up Palin's claim that Monegan was fired because of insubordination over budget issues and not having anything to do with that trooper issue. Dan Springer live in Anchorage, Alaska to explain it all for us. Hi, Dan.

DAN SPRINGER: Yeah Megyn, it is an ongoing saga here in Anchorage. Those e-mails are between the Palin budget director and her top cop, Walt Monegan. And they do seem to suggest that there were some problems brewing in this administration before Monegan was fired. Now the McCain-Palin camp is releasing those e-mails and making the case that Monegan was fired for insubordination, not because he refused to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law. Palin has signaled this week through her campaign that she will not cooperate with the legislative investigation, after initially saying that she welcomed the scrutiny. But in the legal motion filed this week to the state personnel board, which is also investigating this is as an ethics complaint, Palin says she fired Monegan for going around her back, lobbying for pet projects that she had already vetoed. Publicly, Palin seemed very supportive of Monegan, praising him for his program fighting domestic violence, but McCain staffers say it was a different picture behind the scenes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Commissioner Monegan fought the Governor at every single opportunity that he had to try to fight her on budget matters. That's why he was removed from his position.
SPRINGER: Also in the motion, Palin's lawyer makes the argument that Palin had every right and duty to share her concerns about trooper Mike Wooten, who had divorced her sister. Wooten had already been suspended five days, but the governor clearly felt that was too lenient.
MEG STAPLETON: This is a man who was out there, who has tasered his son, who's killed a moose illegally. Who's threatened to kill her father, who's abused her sister. She had the right to say, 'I have concerns about a guy who still patrols my neighborhood.'
SPRINGER: And this whole investigation took another strange turn yesterday when five Republicans in the state legislature filed a lawsuit, trying to get this legislative investigation stopped until the entire legislature could vote on it. In Alaska, they have a part-time legislature and they set up this legislative council, which makes a lot of decisions when the full session is not happening. And so now these five lawmakers want to stop this entire process until the entire state legislature can have a vote as to whether they should move forward, Megyn.
KELLY: Dan Springer, thanks so much.

Limbaugh 'Inducer to Violence,' 'Sick'
Palin 'Gutted' Sp Olympics

On Tuesday's Countdown show, Keith Olbermann referred to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly as "inducers to violence" as the MSNBC host, during the show's "Worst Person" segment, attacked conservative talk radio host Eddie Burke of Anchorage, Alaska, for making inflammatory remarks calling two women who organized a protest against Governor Palin "socialist, baby-killing maggots," and for giving out the womens' cell phone numbers to his audience leading the women to receive death threats. Olbermann suggested that Burke would fit in with Limbaugh or O'Reilly: "Mr. Burke, he got a paltry one-week suspension, and, no doubt, consideration to fill in some day for comedian Rush Limbaugh or Billow or some other of radio's inducers to violence."

And during the show's regular segment, "McCain in the Membrane," a recently added portion of the program whose purpose is, according to Olbermann, to cover "the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain," the MSNBC host charged that it was "sick" for Palin to tout herself as an advocate for special needs children after she had, in Olbermann's words, "gutted" funding for the Alaska Special Olympics. Olbermann ignored findings by FactCheck.org that, as Governor, Palin secured a substantial increase in state spending for special needs children in the education system: www.factcheck.org

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Citing an article in Education Week in their analysis, FactCheck.org contended:

Palin signed legislation in March 2008 that would increase public school funding considerably, including special needs funding. In particular, it would increase spending for certain special needs students that Alaska calls "intensive needs" (students with high-cost special requirements) from $26,900 per student in 2008 to $73,840 per student in 2011. That almost triples the per-student spending in three fiscal years. Palin's original proposal, according to the Anchorage Daily News, would have increased funds slightly more, giving intensive needs students a $77,740 allotment by 2011.

The Education Week article quoted Carl Rose, executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, as calling the increase in funding an "historic event."

Ironically, during the same show's "Worst Person" segment, Olbermann cited FactCheck.org to disprove G. Gordon Liddy's claim that Barack Obama cannot prove he was born in the United States. Olbermann: "The nonpartisan Web site, FactCheck.org, examined the birth certificate in person showing him born in Hawaii. They touched it, they photographed it, they analyzed it. It's the original. He was born in Hawaii."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Tuesday, September 16, Countdown show on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: And as the Republican campaign descends into what one former McCain supporter today describes as "farce," Governor Palin again invokes special needs children while vetoing more than a quarter of a million dollars for the Special Olympics.

...

8:31pm EDT:

OLBERMANN, PLUGGING THE SEGMENT: -"McCain in the Membrane" and the would-be Vice President who gutted her own state's Special Olympics.

8:42pm EDT:

OLBERMANN: But first, our newest feature, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain: "McCain in the Membrane." Twice now in two days -- in Colorado, then today at Vienna, Ohio -- Governor Palin has again invoked -- that is the polite term -- her status as the mother of a special needs child and the role of advocate she wants to play for special needs kids. Yesterday, she said, "Ever since I took the chief executive's job up north, I've pushed for more funding for students with special needs." Today the quote was, "I sought more funds for students with special needs."
Problem: As the chief executive up north, she vetoed $275,000, crossed it out, of the state funding of the Special Olympics. She cut the Special Olympics budget in half and is campaigning as an advocate for special needs kids. That's pretty sick. Well, at least we do know which charity I should donate that hundred bucks to every time she lies about her record: the Alaska Special Olympics.

...

8:48pm EDT:

OLBERMANN, DURING THE "WORST PERSON" SEGMENT: The runner-up, Eddie Burke if radio station KBYR in Anchorage, Alaska. There was a protest against Governor Palin there over the weekend, so naturally Burke called the two women who organized it, quote, "socialist, baby-killing maggots." Then he gave out their personal cell phone numbers and encouraged listeners to call them up and abuse them. The women got death threats. Mr. Burke, he got a paltry one-week suspension, and, no doubt, consideration to fill in some day for comedian Rush Limbaugh or Billow or some other of radio's inducers to violence.

ABC's GMA Train Trip Finds Economic Misery
and Desperation

This week Good Morning America has been touring America via train and finding economic misery and despair along the way. During the three special shows that have aired so far, which ABC has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," the program traveled to struggling towns in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. On Monday, while talking with an elderly man who had lived through the Great Depression, co-host Sawyer described him as someone who had survived "another time of economic crisis." (As a comparison, a quarter of the population was unemployed during the Great Depression. Unemployment today stands at just over six percent.)

On Tuesday, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned the people of Rome, New York and their "tough times." "...Some of them are feeling hard times," she added. On Wednesday, near Gustavus, Ohio, Roberts reported from a small town that "is not booming." While visiting the "suffering town" of Niagara New York on Tuesday, Sawyer talked to parents at a high school hockey game and lamented, "There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river [to Canada] too and wonder about American leadership."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Now, of course, some Americans are going through tough economic times, but the U.S. is not in a recession. (That requires to quarters of negative growth.) Further, where are the segments on American entrepreneurs and those actively living the American dream?

Instead, GMA repeatedly featured stories of extreme desperation and sadness. On Tuesday, an unidentified husband in New York told Roberts, "My mother called and asked when we are going to visit? We've had to put a visit aside. It's only a five hour drive. But just taking the time off from work and the fuel money, we just had to postpone it."

Paul Cantrell, the 89-year-old who Sawyer said remembered "another time of economic crisis," despondently told the host, "I owe a oil bill from last year. My taxes are not completely paid up. This never happened to me before. And I really don't know what I'm going to do about it. It's just not -- it's not the same life as I've always had."

Now, his pain and suffering is obviously real. But is this what GMA's train tour is going to exclusively focus on? Despair? At the very end of Wednesday's segment on "economic misery," Roberts proved that it is possible to highlight bright spots. Speaking of Eerie, Pennsylvania, she observed, "When those jobs disappeared, the city government shifted its focus from industry to tourism investing in promoting its sparkling late, a state park and a casino. Today, over four million people a year visit the Gem City." During this week long trip, it would be nice if GMA could devote full segments, not just asides, to such American success stories.

A transcript of one of the economic misery segments, which aired at 7:31am on September 16:

DIANE SAWYER: You know, we've been talking so much about the fact, all day yesterday, you and I kept hearing from people, their plea, just jobs for this area. Please, jobs for this area. They want to work. And here's a cautionary tale. If you look at the American side, used to be 100,000 people here about 50 years ago. And so many jobs from left, even since 2000. Look at the Canadian side. I thought I was in Brunei for a moment. What is the cautionary tale? Last night, when we got in, we went out to take a tour to give a tale of two cities.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Quite a contrast. We're in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Rockwell country. Rich in culture, art and theater. And as we were making the train ride here, we saw quite a difference.
CHRIS CUOMO: Boy oh boy. You know, in the '90s, when Wall Street was peaking, the manufacturing jobs were leaving this country, in a town like Niagara, New York, you really. see it.
ROBERTS: They lost a huge chunk of the population, especially in the '90s.
[Touring the city and abandoned buildings.]
CUOMO: Look at it. It's just totally fallen into disuse. They say that this used to be the big avenue to shop.
SAWYER: I, too, first visited the U.S. Side of Niagara, where the average income, $27,000. Look at these places. My gosh. Just imagine, turning a corner. Looking across the water and seeing this. Is it Las Vegas? No. Is it Oz? No. Welcome to Canada. Same river. Same falls. Same mist. But the average household income here in Canada is almost double. The average home on the New York side, about $61,000. But on the Canadian side, worth more than $100,000. Here it is, dark, dark, dark, dark. One casino, and viola, the Canadian side, all lit up like this. What's the lesson here? That's what we keep asking? What is the lesson for the U.S. economy and for jobs? [On the Canadian side of the border.] I wonder how many jobs there are on this side of the border, just right here. Jobs, teeming. Up four percent in the last year alone. And we'd even heard that, on a Monday night, in September, these hotels, these massive hotels, were full? [Walks into a hotel.] Hi. Nice to see you. I'm with "Good Morning America." Want to say hello to you. I just wondering, how full are you right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are sold out, almost. We only have a couple rooms left.
SAWYER: You're almost sold out? I head back over to the American side. And we decide on a spur of the moment, to visit my first town hockey game. It looks like some rough hockey out there. There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river too and wonder about American leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MOM: Right. I can't figure out why our government doesn't see what's going on there to bring it over here. And the tourism.
SAWYER: These moms also worry that their children will not only leave the nest, they're going to leave town.
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED MOM: We have great universities. Great state colleges, to educate your child here is wonderful. But to go beyond that, they have to relocate.
SAWYER: And the young fans down front, told me the options are, really, fast food, a bit of construction, even though they would love to stay at home. Why not go some place you know there's a lot of work?
UNIDENTIFIED TEEN: Just home spirit. I like staying at home.
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to leave.
THIRD UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking about it.
SAWYER: Readiness to work and pride in their suffering town. We heard it all over. Whistle stop GMA 2008.

NY Times Architecture Critic Blames Reagan
for Bridge Collapse

The New York Times' architecture critic praised communist China's Olympic infrastructure and compared such "planning" unfavorably to the Reaganite U.S.: "This kind of bold government planning died long ago, of course, a victim of both the public's disillusionment with the large-scale Modernist planning strategies of the postwar era and the antigovernment campaigns of the Reagan years. The consequences were obvious as soon as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. And they have been reaffirmed many times since, with the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis and myriad accounts of our country's crumbling infrastructure."

[This item by Clay Waters was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

On the front page of the Sunday Week in Review, Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's "Reflections: New Orleans and China" showed that he shared the same affliction as foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman -- gauging the success of the strong central power of Communist China by looking at its shining and efficient surface, without questioning its effect on the nation's unseen citizenry. For good measure, he even held Ronald Reagan as responsible for last year's deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Ouroussoff wrote:

For Americans watching events unfold on television late last month, the arduous evacuation of New Orleans and the grandeur of the Olympic Games couldn't have made for a starker contrast.

However one feels about its other policies, the Chinese government is clearly not afraid to invest in the future of its cities. The array of architecture it created for the Beijing Olympics was only part of a mosaic of roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, subway lines and other projects that have transformed a medieval city of wood and brick into a modern metropolis overnight.

The phrase "Potemkin Village" apparently means nothing to architecture critics. And perhaps some re-prioritizing of that infrastructure spending would be in order, given the state of China's schools, hundreds of which collapsed during the recent earthquakes, resulting in grievous loss of young life.

And the Chinese government was able to "create" for the Olympics partly by bulldozing the homes of its citizens. The left-wing Guardian newspaper put the number at around 1.5 million displaced Chinese.

Ouroussoff then made an odious comparison:

Meanwhile, three full years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, much of the city remains a wasteland. As Hurricane Gustav raced toward the Gulf Coast, it became clear that the city's patchwork levee system could not guarantee the safety of its citizens. The evacuation of tens of thousands of residents was cheered as some sort of victory.

Who is to blame for New Orleans' plight? Ronald Reagan, of course. The critic had no room to discuss the incompetence of local officials or questions about what really caused the Minneapolis bridge collapse, simply stating:

Anyone who has watched the film "Chinatown" knows the story of William Mulholland's aqueduct, which transformed Los Angeles from a desert wasteland into a sunny paradise of trim lawns and orange groves. Less known is the story of modern New Orleans, which exists because of the system of canals, levees and pumps -- the largest in the world -- that were used to drain acres of marshland.

This kind of bold government planning died long ago, of course, a victim of both the public's disillusionment with the large-scale Modernist planning strategies of the postwar era and the anti-government campaigns of the Reagan years. The consequences were obvious as soon as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. And they have been reaffirmed many times since, with the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis and myriad accounts of our country's crumbling infrastructure.

Still, many Americans stubbornly regard any kind of large-scale public works project with suspicion. Three years ago, for example, the nonprofit Urban Land Institute unveiled a master plan for New Orleans that would have transformed large parts of the city into wetland areas. But the proposal, which was released as thousands of people were struggling to make their way back to the city, caused a public outcry and was immediately dropped. The institute compounded the problem by not including a workable proposal for how to house those dislocated by the plan.

For the September 14 piece: www.nytimes.com

-- Brent Baker