A Media Matters for America review has found that a July 24 report from a task force of the American Bar Association (ABA) on President Bush's use of so-called "signing statements" has been ignored by several media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, all three television networks, and Fox News prime-time shows. The ABA report concluded that Bush's practice of attaching signing statements to congressional legislation "weaken[s] our cherished system of checks and balances and separation of powers."
In their coverage of President Bush's recent veto of embryonic stem cell legislation, The New York Times and CNN reported that Bush also signed a bill that day banning "fetal farming" -- creating embryos or fetuses specifically for use as a source of cells or tissue. But neither noted that "fetal farming" is neither being carried out, nor is it "under serious scientific consideration," as National Public Radio's Julie Rovner reported.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Carl Cameron stated that the House of Representatives had approved a Voting Rights Act extension "overwhelmingly." However, Cameron failed to note that a majority of House Republicans had supported four amendments to the bill that would have weakened the legislation or possibly prevented its passage.
Christopher Hitchens concluded that Robert Novak's July 12 "tell-all" column and his July 16 appearance on Meet the Press "dissolved any remaining doubt" that the Bush administration "outed" Valerie Plame, but presented irrelevant facts and assertions in support of that conclusion.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Carl Cameron falsely suggested that public opinion polls show that most Americans support amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. While some recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be illegal, most polls that directly addressed a federal constitutional amendment show that a plurality or even a majority of Americans oppose it.
In an article on President Bush's threat to veto legislation expanding federal funding for stem cell research, Time magazine reported that "you could argue" that Bush "has made a career of ... holding fast to positions that many voters reject, as a sign of strength in these dangerous times." In fact, as Media Matters for America and many others have pointed out, Bush has a long history of reversing course on issues, particularly when it is politically expedient or necessary to do so.
Reporting on the death of former Enron Corp. founder and chairman Kenneth Lay, on the July 5 edition of NBC's Nightly News, correspondent Don Teague made no mention of Lay's connection to President Bush.
On Special Report, Jeffrey Birnbaum baselessly asserted that "if you compare Americans' view of the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism this Fourth of July compared to last Fourth of July, the president and his policies are in a much better position." However, polling shows otherwise.
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.