In the summary of its March 18-23 News Coverage Index, the Project for Excellence in Journalism selectively cited a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll to assert that the American public is not that interested in the U.S. attorney scandal. It did not note that the same Pew poll found that 19 percent of respondents said they were following "[q]uestions about how the White House and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were involved in the firing of eight federal prosecutors" "very closely," while 24 percent said they were following it "fairly closely."
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Trent Lott claimed that President Bush would be "making a huge mistake" if he allows "his close advisers in the White House to testify before Congress under oath," adding: "There is a thing called executive privilege." While host Chris Wallace noted the number of Clinton administration officials who testified, he did not question Lott about his assertions then about the limitations of executive privilege: that the president should not be able to claim executive privilege unless national security considerations are involved.
Several media outlets reporting on the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote to authorize subpoenas of senior White House officials to force on-the-record testimony in the U.S. attorney investigation suggested that the vote fell along partisan lines. In fact, Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, went on record with an "aye" vote in favor of subpoenas.
A March 20 New York Times article bore the headline "E-Mail Shows Performance, Not Politics, Prompted Attorney Firings, Officials Say." But the article itself reported that performance did not appear to play a role in at least one firing, that of Daniel K. Bogden of Nevada. According to the article, "a top Justice Department official who oversaw the dismissals said he had never even reviewed the performance" of Bogden.