Advancing a line put forth by the administration, several conservative media figures have argued that the revelation of President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program has effectively rendered it worthless because its existence and practices have been disclosed to terrorist groups. However, Media Matters for America has previously noted the absurdity of this claim.
CNN became at least the fourth news outlet to adopt the administration's preferred term "terrorist surveillance program" to describe President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program.
A New York Times article noted that Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), appearing on the February 12 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, criticized the Bush administration for allegedly authorizing the leaking of classified information. However, it failed to note that -- during the very same segment of the program -- Sen. George Allen (R-VA) also criticized the administration's leaking of classified information.
On ABC's This Week, Washington Post columnist George F. Will called President Bush's controversial warrantless domestic spying program "a winner politically" because "[t]here's no question the country says, 'You're listening in? We don't care.' " However, polling shows that, depending on the wording of the poll question, a strong minority of the public or even a majority opposes the program.
A Washington Post article about the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program falsely claimed that the program's critics are "some Democrats." In fact, many Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, also disagree with the administration's legal justifications for the program.
Reporting on President Bush's February 9 account of how the government successfully thwarted a 2002 Al Qaeda plot to crash a hijacked airplane into a Los Angeles skyscraper, numerous media outlets -- including The New York Times, Associated Press, and USA Today -- ignored doubts among counterterrorism officials that the proposed attack ever advanced beyond the initial planning stages and ever posed a serious threat.
Fox News host John Gibson suggested a link between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and the foiling of an Al Qaeda plot, first described by President Bush in a February 9 speech, to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Bush, however, did not mention the controversial surveillance program in his speech, and the White House refused to say if the domestic surveillance program was involved in foiling the terrorist plot.
Former Time magazine correspondent John Dickerson answered questions raised by a Media Matters item during an appearance on The Al Franken Show. His answers indicated that he is familiar with the Media Matters item, yet Dickerson did not deny the central point of the item -- that he and his colleagues participated in the publication of misleading articles that contained statements they knew to be false. Nor did Dickerson offer a single relevant explanation or justification for the knowing publication, without rebuttal, of a false statement by White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
On The 700 Club, senior reporter Dale Hurd concluded a news report by claiming that controversial cartoons perceived as anti-Islamic "seem to have unified the Muslim world against the West," but that "[i]t remains to be seen whether they [the cartoons] will also unify the West in defense of its civilization." But, contrary to Hurd's suggestion of unanimity in the Muslim world, many of the religious leaders and government officials who represent Muslims have condemned the widespread rioting that followed publication of the cartoons.
During an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney on PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, anchor Jim Lehrer missed numerous opportunities to challenge assertions Cheney made in defense of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, attorneys David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey defended President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program by repeating the claim that the program monitors only the communications of "Al Qaeda operatives" either out of or into the United States and that its "domestic footprint" was "minimized." In fact, as Media Matters has previously noted, the program has reportedly cast a broad net and monitored communications of thousands of people with no connection to Al Qaeda.
MSNBC host Dan Abrams failed to challenge the assertion of Kris W. Kobach, a constitutional law professor and former counsel to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, that President Bush's controversial domestic spying program dealt only with "very targeted" calls. In fact, recent media reports indicate that the program has cast a broad net, monitoring thousands of people with no relationship to Al Qaeda.
In his nationally syndicated column, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell drew a false comparison between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and Bill Clinton's call for expanding anti-terror legislation following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In drawing the comparison, Bozell ignored key distinctions: Clinton publicly called for Congress to pass legislation; Bush secretly authorized a clandestine surveillance program without informing the public or seeking congressional approval.
Bill O'Reilly claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was "set up to prevent ... criminal abuses" and does not address wartime. In fact, FISA contains specific wartime provisions.
Chris Matthews claimed that a comment made by President Bush in April 2004 that "[a]ny time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires ... a court order" was "pre-9-11."