In their recent coverage of three major national security developments, various media outlets have portrayed the events as "victories" for President Bush and Republicans or losses for Democrats, with little or no discussion of how these events could be seen as bad for the White House and the GOP.
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell wrongly claimed that, in a hypothetical presidential campaign between President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bush would win because Clinton has "a question about likability and authenticity and a sense of trust." In fact, public opinion polls indicate that Clinton has a higher favorability rating and is viewed as more trustworthy than Bush, and their likability ratings are roughly equal.
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.
Fox News' Megyn Kendall adopted the Bush administration's misleading defense of its controversial and frequent use of "signing statements" to challenge newly passed laws -- that throughout history, "presidents have often issued signing statements when they sign a bill into law." But Kendall failed to mention that Bush has, in his signing statements, challenged more individual statutes than all other previous presidents combined, and Bush has far more frequently used signing statements "to waive his obligation to follow" even clear provisions in the law he just signed.
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.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "most Americans have no tolerance for what they call amnesty" in the Senate immigration bill, and Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich called the bill "absurd" because "it will be very unpopular." But recent polling almost universally shows that Americans support a path to citizenship -- provided for in the Senate bill -- for some illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
In their coverage of the postponement of congressional negotiations on immigration reform, several major print media outlets failed to note that legislation passed by House Republicans would designate as felons the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States.
After previously referring to Rep. Cynthia McKinney as "a welfare drag queen," calling her a "ghetto slut," and claiming that a recent haircut made her "look like ghetto trash," Neal Boortz stated, on June 20, that "some time over the next couple of weeks, [Rep.] Cynthia McKinney [D-GA] will show her ass again."
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace and Fox News' Brit Hume criticized Democrats because a domestic policy platform unveiled by the congressional Democratic leadership contained "not a single word about the war in Iraq." While the platform focused only on domestic issues, it followed a proposed national security strategy released earlier this year that did address Iraq, which neither Wallace nor Hume cited. Later, during a discussion on ethics, Hume, Wallace, and other Fox News Sunday panelists failed to note the broadening investigation into the ethics of House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Wallace also gushed over White House press secretary and former Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow.
Interviewing author Ron Suskind, whose new book found the Department of Homeland Security to be "nonexistent" and "basically a joke," NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer asked Suskind if he risks "emboldening our enemies" by "talking about some of the weaknesses in policy and procedure" in the U.S.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, CBS News contributor Gloria Borger acknowledged that the media "are suckers" because of their coverage of President Bush's surprise June 13 trip to Iraq. Borger concluded: "[Y]ou know you're being used, but in a way you kind of like it because it's good pictures."
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On Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas stated that White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Tony Snow "looked a lot better in those metal helmets than [former Democratic presidential candidate] Michael Dukakis did in that tank some years ago."
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."
Following the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the news that Karl Rove would not be indicted in the CIA leak case, and other events, media figures have declared that the Bush administration is experiencing "a surge of momentum." But such assertions ignore the White House's numerous current problems.