Los Angeles Times staff writer James Gerstenzang reported that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate said "that the militant movement opposing U.S. forces in Iraq had grown stronger." In fact, the NIE found that the Iraq war has boosted terrorist recruitment worldwide. By downplaying the NIE's judgments, Gerstenzang failed to provide proper context for the Democratic criticism noted in the article and added credence to President Bush's recent attack on those critics.
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger declared the story surrounding the declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) a "colossal waste of the time devoted to it." But Henninger offered little to explain how or why the story "had burned down to embers," nor did he explain why President Bush addressed the NIE in two recent speeches, which would seemingly contradict Henninger's claim.
The Associated Press and NBC's Nightly News uncritically reported Tony Snow's dismissal of the National Intelligence Estimate's findings that the Iraq war has fueled terrorism. Snow claimed that the NIE is "a snapshot ... of what's going on in the region." However, work on the NIE reportedly began in 2004, and, as CBS reported, the NIE "is really a forecast" that "analyzes the nature of the threat terrorist groups will pose during the next five years."
NBC's David Gregory claimed that "no one questions whether this president has been tough on terror," and that "Democrats charge the U.S. is creating more terrorists because of Iraq." But several reports have called into question Bush's "toughness" in the war on terrorism, and contrary to Gregory's suggestion that only Democrats are claiming "the U.S. is creating more terrorists because of Iraq," that assertion is one of the "key judgments" of recently declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate.
Brit Hume reported claims by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that "security has actually improved in the last year" in the country, citing the decrease in car bombings in Baghdad. But Hume did not cite recent reports showing a marked increase in the number of civilian casualties and attacks in Iraq in recent months.
In his column, Cal Thomas wrote that the website FactCheck.org had "looked into the substance" of a recent ad criticizing Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA) and "found none." But Media Matters has documented errors in FactCheck's analysis of the ad.
OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto cited a 1998 memo to then-President Bill Clinton titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks" to claim that Clinton ignored evidence of the danger Al Qaeda posed to the United States. However, the 9-11 Commission detailed an immediate and aggressive response to the memo by the Clinton administration.
On NBC's Today, discussing the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations over which administration has better handled the terrorism threat, Bill Bennett falsely claimed that President Clinton was the one who "brought ... up" the topic of his administration's anti-terror efforts. In fact, the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations grew out of Clinton's Fox News interview, during which host Chris Wallace first brought up the subject by asking Clinton why he did not "do more to put [Osama] bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business."
In reports on the dispute over the Bush and Clinton administrations' anti-terrorism policies and their culpability in failing to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Associated Press and Newsday presented the two sides of the argument without exploring the factual basis for either.
Evening newscasts on ABC and NBC uncritically aired President Bush's nonsensical non-responses to questions about declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate; NBC and CBS presented misleading reports on the NIE's conclusions, both asserting that the declassified portion of the report at least in part backs up Bush.
Despite initially hyping Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's and Rep. Curt Weldon's claims that the military intelligence unit Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CNN and other media outlets have completely ignored the Defense Department inspector general's September 21 conclusion that "prior to September 11, 2001, Able Danger team members did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker."
On The Situation Room, during an interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Wolf Blitzer once again touted his September 20 interview with President Bush but ignored Bush's contradictory statements that he would "[a]bsolutely" order U.S. troops into Pakistan to pursue Osama bin Laden and that the United States would have to be "invited" into the country if bin Laden were found to be there, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.