On June 29, several Fox News media figures suggested that the U.S. government should "put up the Office of Censorship" to screen news reports to determine whether they "hurt the country" or are of "news value," in the wake of a New York Times article disclosing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions.
In response to the reports describing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity, President Bush and other White House officials lashed out at the media -- and The New York Times in particular -- for purportedly undermining the government's antiterrorism efforts. But as with the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance and domestic call-tracking programs, the administration and its supporters in the media have relied on numerous false and misleading claims to support their arguments.
In an online column, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote that President Bush, who in 2004 pledged to cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2009, may follow through on that pledge by the end of 2006. However, many experts have said that the Bush administration routinely offers inflated deficit projections so it can then take credit for actual deficits that come in below those projections.
On Your World, Jonathan Hoenig, managing member of Capitalistpig Asset Management LLC, said the United States "should take preventative action" against North Korea to "take out their capacity to threaten us" and prevent North Korea from becoming "a real threat and a catalyst for a major sell-off on Wall Street."
On NBC's Today, Michael Smerconish selectively cited the stock market's performance and cherry-picked favorable data from a New York Times op-ed to claim that President Bush was making a "comeback." In fact, the Dow Jones industrial average has headed downward dramatically in recent weeks before experiencing a partial recovery in recent days, and other data cited in the Times op-ed led its authors to conclude that "it is increasingly hard to describe Iraq as a glass half-full."
A June 13 Washington Post article reported Karl Rove's claim in a recent speech that Democrats are "for more spending," while Republicans support "less spending" but provided no rebuttal to the assertion. In fact, President Bush and the GOP-led Congress have joined in creating massive budget deficits by significantly increasing domestic and defense spending while cutting taxes.
On his radio show, Neal Boortz stated that "[s]o many" of the victims of Hurricane Katrina "have turned out to be complete bums, just debris," and called "thousands" "deadbeat[s]."
On Fox News' Your World, Jonathan Hoenig, managing member of Capitalistpig Asset Management LLC, asserted that bombing Iran would raise the Dow Jones industrial average. Hoening stated: "[F]rankly, if you want to see the Dow go up, let's get the bombers in the air and neutralize this Iranian threat. We've gone to the negotiating table, we have danced around with these people" and "that's not going to help this country nor the stock market." During the discussion, host Neil Cavuto stated that "the message is just, 'Avoid people with beards,' " after airing a split-screen shot of Federal Reserve Chief Benjamin S. Bernanke and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both have beards.
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On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson cited a poll showing that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy and asked chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos to explain the "disconnect" between this disapproval rating and the fact that that "economic numbers are pretty good." Stephanopoulos responded by quoting unnamed "Republican strategists" who attributed the low poll numbers solely to high gas prices. No perspective was offered from Democrats, who might have noted that wage increases are barely keeping pace with inflation.
On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Neal Boortz made misleading claims about the Fair Tax Act, introduced by Rep. John Linder, which would replace all existing federal taxes with a national retail sales tax on most consumer and government purchases. In fact, Boortz relied on an unusual method of describing sales tax rates. Moreover, according to President Bush's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, Boortz significantly understated the tax rate necessary for the Fair Tax Act to be revenue-neutral.
On Fox News Live, Time magazine White House correspondent Mike Allen declared that the guilty verdicts for former Enron CEOs Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling are "going to be very helpful to the president [George W. Bush] because it shows that even friends of the president, even big business, longtime supporters of the president are prosecuted, and there is justice even for big fish."
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On Fox News' Your World, Michelle Dallacroce, the founder of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, asserted that there is no reason "that we have to have" immigrant women and children in the United States, since there are no jobs for "the women and the children [to] do ... other than their children's job is to dumb down the American children and overpopulate our schools."
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The Washington Post reported on House Republicans' passage of a $2.8 trillion budget proposal, the GOP divide over the spending plan, and an alternative budget blueprint put forward by moderate Republicans. But the Post ignored entirely an alternative budget proposed by House Democrats, which would have restored GOP-proposed cuts to social services and reinstated the pay-as-you-go rule that Republicans let expire in 2002.
On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted President Bush's claim that dividend and capital gains tax cuts passed in 2003 "have helped expand the economy and create jobs," but she omitted any mention of critics who have challenged the administration's claims that the tax cuts were responsible for the recent economic growth.
A New York Times article about new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee radio advertisements on Social Security incorrectly stated that the ads "try to remind those who traditionally vote Republican of their party's plan to add private investment accounts" to the retirement program. In fact, President Bush did not propose adding accounts to the existing system; instead, he proposed allowing workers to divert up to 4 percent of wages (about one-third of their payroll taxes) into a private account, removing it from the money available to pay Social Security benefits for current retirees.