PBS' NewsHour host Jim Lehrer allowed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to mischaracterize a letter to Congress by five top uniformed military lawyers. Frist suggested that the letter supports the Bush administration's proposed legislation regarding the interrogation and trial of terrorism suspects. However, Lehrer did not mention that the letter addresses only certain provisions of Bush's plan, not the entire bill, and that the military lawyers reportedly refused to sign a letter endorsing Bush's entire bill. Lehrer also allowed Frist to misrepresent comments Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made in a NewsHour interview the previous night.
Bill O'Reilly selectively cited a New York Times article to suggest that government officials involved in the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah agree that Zubaydah provided critical information to the United States after the CIA used "harsh" interrogation techniques. But in that same Times article, other government officials challenged the efficacy of the interrogation techniques used on Zubaydah.
Washington Post staff writer Jonathan Weisman reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a GOP bill that would essentially codify the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. But Weisman ignored a bipartisan bill passed by the same committee that would reaffirm the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court approval for all domestic eavesdropping for foreign intelligence purposes.
Robin Roberts failed to challenge Tony Snow's false suggestion that Democrats oppose "listening in on terrorists." As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, critics of the administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program have not spoken out against "listening in on terrorists"; they have said only that the administration should act within the law and obtain warrants for such surveillance.
Numerous news outlets have uncritically reported President Bush's assertion in a September 6 speech that the CIA's controversial interrogation methods led detained Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah to disclose crucial information. But The New York Times and The Washington Post have highlighted disclosures that contradict Bush's account of both Zubaydah's value as a source and the efficacy of the interrogation methods used on him. Will the other media outlets report this conflict?
In offering his analysis of President Bush's announcement that 14 terrorism detainees once held at secret prisons had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, CBS' Bob Schieffer ignored the politics behind Bush's move. Overlooking the fact that Bush was in no way obligated to make this announcement -- which apparently was timed for maximum political impact -- when he did, Schieffer claimed that Bush had "no choice" but to go to Congress now and request the authority to try the detainees. In stating that there was "no doubt" that Congress will grant Bush that authority, Schieffer ignored the criticism raised by three prominent Senate Republicans of Bush's proposed system for trying terrorism suspects.
Fox News' Alan Colmes repeatedly challenged Fox News political analyst Dick Morris's false claims that "Democrats oppose" "the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretaps, the seizure of bank deposits, [and] data mining."
In his column, Robert Novak falsely suggested that U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision striking down the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program was so off-the-wall that it "has been stayed and probably will be reversed," that "Taylor ended up with the case because of forum-shopping," and that professor Jack Balkin had criticized the decision's legal reasoning but nevertheless "rejoiced" over it for "political" reasons.
CNN's Kitty Pilgrim uncritically repeated White House senior adviser Karl Rove's dubious claim that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "might have prevented" the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In fact, the Bush administration had information on two of the 9-11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks occurred, and according to the 9-11 Commission and congressional investigators, it was primarily bureaucratic problems -- rather than a lack of information -- that resulted in their escaping detection.
An Associated Press article uncritically repeated Karl Rove's assertion that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," even though law enforcement officials had information on some of the 9-11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks occurred. The article also accepted Rove's characterization of the debate over the program as whether "the government should be free to listen if al-Qaida is calling someone within the U.S.," although critics of the program have not contested this point.
On Your World, Neil Cavuto suggested that the British have "been pragmatic" in their efforts to combat terrorism and that they have enacted some counterterrorism laws that would be unconstitutional in the United States because the British "have a tradition of wanting to live."
On The Radio Factor and Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris repeated the false claim that critics of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, including many Democrats, oppose any wiretapping of suspected terrorists and question the legality of wiretapping in general.
McClatchy Newspapers misleadingly reported that legislation proposed by Sen. Arlen Specter is "intended to put the surveillance program under the jurisdiction of a special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]." In fact, under a deal reached between the White House and congressional Republicans on the legislation, the president has the option of asking the FISA court to review the program. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin claimed that the Specter bill would "be a compromise" on the domestic surveillance program; many Democrats and progressives, however, have called the Specter bill an "end run" around FISA.
Bill O'Reilly baselessly claimed that the federal judge who struck down the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "would oppose every anti-terror measure the Bush administration has put in just because they are the Bush administration." In fact, the judge made a ruling in the administration's favor, dismissing the claim that the National Security Agency's "data-mining practices" are unconstitutional.
After a federal judge recently struck down the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, some media figures have repeated the false Republican charge that critics of the program are opposed to wiretapping in general. In fact, critics of the program say that the Bush administration is violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by conducting surveillance of U.S. citizens and legal residents without obtaining a warrant from the FISA court