Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank repeated President Bush's recent defense of statements he made in 2004 suggesting that the government does not engage in surveillance without obtaining a warrant. Milbank said that Bush had been referring only to "roving wiretaps" in the context of the USA Patriot Act, and not to all domestic wiretapping. While that is the context in which Bush was speaking, what he actually said referred to all wiretapping activity, even while he was secretly authorizing warrantless wiretaps.
Following President Bush's State of the Union address, various media figures described his defense of domestic eavesdropping as "strong," "vigorous," and "fierce." But they failed to note the numerous inaccuracies Bush employed in justifying the surveillance program, whose legality has been challenged not just by Democrats, but by Republicans and some prominent conservative legal scholars as well.
Immediately following the State of the Union address, Chris Matthews praised the "strong statements" that President Bush made defending his domestic spying program without correcting Bush's discredited suggestion that two 9-11 hijackers could have been caught if the program had existed. Matthews also said that the criticism of the program was defined by partisanship, despite the fact that the program has been questioned by both Democrats and Republicans.
A column by U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone mischaracterized the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, dismissing the "hue and cry" from "the mainstream media and some Democrats" over its alleged illegality. However, numerous Republicans and conservatives have also criticized and expressed concern over the program.
Fox News has adopted the Bush administration's terminology for its warrantless domestic spying program, calling it the "terrorist surveillance program."
An Associated Press Q&A purporting to address some of the issues regarding the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program contained misleading and incomplete answers.
Offering little evidence, while ignoring mounting evidence of dissent within the Bush administration as well as its contradictory attempts to explain President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program, Time's Michael Duffy and Mike Allen both claimed that, in Duffy's words, Bush has "put ... to bed" the controversy.
On Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol distorted Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean's criticism of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, claiming that Dean had said that the program was "probably some kind of domestic spying on political enemies." In fact, Dean made no such allegation.
CBS' John Roberts selectively cited the results of a poll to claim that Americans support President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, but the full poll results show that the public's view of the program is more evenly divided.
In a January 23 speech defending his warrantless domestic surveillance program, President Bush claimed that Congress' 2001 authorization of force, upheld by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, establishes his authority to conduct the program. But numerous legal authorities have objected to Bush's claim that the high court affirmed his authority to wiretap U.S. residents without a warrant. Despite these objections, several news outlets repeated Bush's claim without challenge.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell claimed that recent polls on President Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping showed "little public outcry over the program, especially when [the administration] tell[s] people it is limited only to those who talk to Al Qaeda." What Mitchell did not note is that the administration's characterization of the program understates its scope. Moreover, recent polling shows that support for the program is at best split.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rejected a Democratic study that showed that the military has been strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Schieffer did not note that Rumsfeld also rejected a Pentagon-funded report that came to a similar conclusion.
The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Knight Ridder reported on a 2002 Justice Department statement explaining its refusal to support a bill proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The statement appears to undermine several of the Bush administration's key arguments for conducting warrantless domestic surveillance. While these papers have highlighted the 2002 Justice Department statement, the media have yet to report that the administration's response to that disclosure from 2002 contradicts numerous statements it has made in defense of the surveillance program.
Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle distorted remarks made by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) to falsely claim that Kennedy said the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program as Bush described it does not violate the law. In fact, the next sentence of Kennedy's statement indicated that he and the Congressional Research Service believe such activities operate outside of the law.
ABC's World News Tonight uncritically reported President Bush's discredited claim that the National Security Agency might have identified some of the 9-11 terrorists before the attacks if his warrantless domestic surveillance program had been in place.