On The Big Story, Fox News' Megyn Kendall reported that, during a speech, Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, even though, she later claimed, he "doesn't know that much about" it. She later falsely suggested that "those who have been briefed on the program don't see any problem" with it. In fact, several members of the House and Senate committees have criticized the program.
In response to a question from Wolf Blitzer about why people have been wrongfully detained by the U.S. government, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed he didn't "know the specific cases" Blitzer was "referring to." Blitzer did not challenge Gonzales or point out any of several such detainments documented by human-rights groups and foreign governments.
In reporting on the Justice Department's probe into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, the Associated Press left out the fact that President Bush had effectively shut down a previous probe -- by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility -- by denying investigators the necessary security clearances.
In their coverage of Saddam Hussein's November 5 guilty verdict, several print news outlets reported U.S. officials' assertions that the announcement had not been timed to coincide with the midterm elections but ignored reporting that conflicts with these denials -- in particular, the fact that the full verdict in Saddam's trial is not set to be released until November 9.
Fox News' Steve Harrigan underwent what he described as three "phase[s]" of the controversial interrogation technique known as "waterboarding," on camera, concluding that the technique is "a pretty efficient mechanism to get someone to talk and then still have them alive and healthy within minutes." Psychologists have asserted that "such forms of near-asphyxiation" can lead to long-term psychological damage.
Additional portions of the interview of Dick Cheney showed ABC News' George Stephanopoulos letting Cheney repeat the administration's self-serving and dubious assertions on Democratic tax plans, Iraq, and the economy, including the oft-repeated Republican talking point that if Rep. Charlie Rangel were to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, "you would see a major tax increase."
During Tony Snow's recent series of appearances on cable news channels, interviewers on CNN and Fox News left unchallenged a number of false, misleading, and baseless Republican talking points on a variety of issues. After allowing Snow to misrepresent the Democratic position on the surveillance and detention of suspected terrorists, CNN host Wolf Blitzer told Snow that he is "a straight shooter."
Numerous news outlets -- including the Los Angeles Times, ABC, CNN, and CNBC -- uncritically reported President Bush's false claim that Democrats oppose "listening to," "detaining," "questioning," and "trying the terrorists." In fact, Democrats have repeatedly acknowledged the need to eavesdrop on, detain, question, and try terrorists, while objecting to specific Bush administration antiterrorism policies that they consider to be violations of current U.S. or international law, or unwarranted expansions of presidential powers.
On Fox News Sunday, Michael Barone falsely claimed that Democrats would prefer to "hang up the phone and go to court," rather than "listening to what ... terrorists are plotting." In fact, Democrats -- and numerous Republicans and conservatives -- have said nothing of the sort, pointing to a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Bush administration has apparently violated, that allows the government to undertake surveillance in emergency situations for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant.
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Although Washington Post, New York Times, and Reuters reports on President Bush's signing of the Military Commissions Act included general criticism of the legislation, they were all silent on its most controversial provision: allowing the president to detain noncitizens in the United States or abroad for any reason, indefinitely.
In her report on President Bush's signing of the controversial detainee bill, ABC's Martha Raddatz noted Sen. Russ Feingold's general opposition to the bill but gave no indication of Feingold's specific criticism -- that the bill "allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court." Nightly news broadcasts on NBC and CBS devoted little attention to the bill's signing and ignored Democratic criticism of it altogether.