Following President Bush's claim on Larry King Live that the United States had a functional missile defense system, numerous media outlets reported his statement without challenge. By contrast, a report on NPR's Morning Edition noted that the missile defense system "has been plagued with technical problems" and has never been thoroughly tested, citing Government Accountability Office reports that indicate the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.
Sean Hannity criticized both the media and the Bush administration for not "paying attention to what was the biggest story in the lead-up to the [Iraq] war": the discredited June 21 claim by Sen. Rick Santorum and House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra that a recently declassified intelligence report found that there were "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq prior to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion. But intelligence officials, military officials, and the Bush administration have all confirmed that the pre-1991 shells were not the WMDs that the Bush administration cited in its argument for war.
Now that it has been reported twice in the past two months that lapses in security placed the personal information of millions of veterans and the integrity of the FBI's computer system in jeopardy, will the media finally begin to question the national security credentials of the Bush White House and Republicans?
Though White House press secretary Tony Snow criticized "attempts to try to describe" North Korea's recent missile tests "in breathless World War III terms," Fox News hosts, analysts, and guests repeatedly suggested using force to prevent North Korea from conducting further missile tests and acquiring more nuclear weapons-grade material, with one military analyst even advocating the "nuclear" option.
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A Newsweek article offered various reasons why the Bush administration's response to the North Korean missile tests "has been relatively low key," but completely ignored another explanation: In the words of one expert on U.S. policy toward North Korea, "they don't want to highlight the failure of American policy for the last five years."
On Special Report, Jeffrey Birnbaum baselessly asserted that "if you compare Americans' view of the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism this Fourth of July compared to last Fourth of July, the president and his policies are in a much better position." However, polling shows otherwise.
In their recent coverage of three major national security developments, various media outlets have portrayed the events as "victories" for President Bush and Republicans or losses for Democrats, with little or no discussion of how these events could be seen as bad for the White House and the GOP.
In a Washington Post article, staff writers Dan Balz and Richard Morin cited the results of a misleading poll question to assert that a majority of Americans "oppose a deadline for getting out of Iraq." But the poll set up a false dichotomy between two Republican talking points -- that proponents of withdrawing troops from Iraq only wish to do so "in order to avoid further casualties," and that "pull[ing] out would only encourage the anti-government insurgents."
On Hardball, Chris Matthews left unchallenged White House communications director Nicolle Wallace's claim that "there is no way" The New York Times could discuss "terrorists already knowing about" a Treasury Department finance-tracking program reported by the Times and other newspapers "unless they're talking to terrorists." In fact, the Treasury Department's efforts to track terrorist finances by obtaining international banking records were already a matter of public knowledge prior to the publication of the Times article.
As numerous Bush administration officials, congressional Republicans, and conservative media figures continue to attack The New York Times and other newspapers for their decision to publicly disclose the Treasury Department bank-tracking program, major U.S. newspapers' editorial boards have largely remained silent on the issue. According to a Media Matters for America review, 15 newspapers -- not including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which also initially reported the program -- have so far editorialized either in support of the papers' decision to run the story or against the criticism they received for doing so.
A Wall Street Journal editorial twisted logic by attacking The New York Times for publishing a June 23 article on a Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions while simultaneously defending the Journal's own contemporaneous article on the Treasury Department program. In fact, there appears to be no relevant basis for differentiating between the two reports.
Focus on the Family's James Dobson accused "prominent Democrats" such as Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) of "implying we ought to cut and run" from Iraq, then compared Democrats' strategy for Iraq to "the last helicopter," referring to the helicopter evacuation of U.S. embassy employees from South Vietnam in 1975.
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
On Countdown, Keith Olbermann honored Brent Bozell and Glenn Beck with first and third-place honors, respectively, in his nightly "Worst Person" award segment: Bozell for repeating the Republican assertion that a recently declassified report found there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion, and Beck for comparing The New York Times' report on a Treasury Department program designed to track terrorists' international financial transactions to condoning the genocide committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.