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.
During a profile of "scary smart," " 'girly' and fun" Condoleezza Rice, broadcast on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric let Rice make, without challenge, a series of false and misleading statements about the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and its use of prewar intelligence, as well as the war's effect on global instability. Couric tossed Rice softball questions, such as, "Is it hard for you to have a social life?" "[H]ow does one go about asking the secretary of state out on a date?"
At a White House press conference, President Bush described Americans who think the Iraq war has made the country less safe as "naïve" and rebutted claims that the conflict has contributed to the growing terrorist threat by repeating his illogical argument that "[w]e weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th." But reporters failed to challenge his non-responsive remarks, and several print outlets uncritically reported them shortly thereafter.
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CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend's claims that "there's no question that terrorism was a priority" in the Bush administration before 9-11 and that the Bush administration was unaware of the "comprehensive strategy to proceed with the war on terror" former President Clinton said he left with the incoming administration, despite the fact that the 9-11 Commission offered claims to the contrary.
CNN and the Associated Press reported without challenge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's misleading response to former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to September 11, 2001.
ABC's Diane Sawyer let Bill O'Reilly misleadingly defend President Bush's efforts to pursue Osama bin Laden and to put forward without challenge the dubious claim that the so-called "traditionalist" cause O'Reilly champions in his book is "not a religious movement." Sawyer also failed to challenge O'Reilly on the numerous falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations in his new book.
In the Fox News premiere of her new show, The Live Desk, host Martha MacCallum advanced several falsehoods regarding the respective anti-terrorism efforts of Presidents Clinton and Bush, while discussing Chris Wallace's recent interview with Clinton. MacCallum falsely claimed that Richard Clarke was demoted by the Bush administration after 9-11 and that the Clinton administration abandoned opportunities to take out Osama bin Laden, despite having him "in their scope."
In discussing former President Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Howard Kurtz wrote in his column that Clinton gave an "impassioned, finger-wagging answer" to Wallace's question about why he failed to "do more ... and put [Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda] out of business." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz asserted, "[I]t would seem that ... the former president just went overboard." But in neither instance did Kurtz indicate that Clinton gave a substantive defense of his administration's anti-terror efforts in response.
Washington Post staff writer Peter Baker wrote that while President Bush's "public persona gives little sense that he dwells on the costs of war ... the private Bush comes across differently in the accounts of aides, friends, relatives and military family members who have met with him." However, Baker did not mention instances in which Bush has publicly made dismissive comments about U.S. involvement in Iraq.