New York Times chief military correspondent Michael Gordon asserted that "President Bush did listen to his generals over the past year and a half, and he did as -- implement the strategy that General [George W.] Casey [Jr.] advocated, and it didn't work." Fox News host Fred Barnes asserted that "the president is not doing what his commanders on the ground have urged, mainly because their policy has failed." But these assertions ignore reporting that Bush had been determining troop levels in Iraq and has "never left the decision to commanders."
In a New York Times op-ed, Jeff Stein writes that "most American officials I've interviewed," including, "not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies," "don't have a clue" what the differences are between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. While Stein raises an important question, a more pertinent question is: Why has this critical piece of information gone unreported in the Times' news pages?
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.
A CNN report on the search for Osama bin Laden noted that the insufficient number of U.S. forces in the mountains of Afghanistan in late 2001 allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape capture. But the report omitted any reference to the recent revelation that the CIA specifically warned President Bush at the time that more U.S. troops were needed.
Fox News host Steve Doocy repeatedly touted Operation Mountain Thrust, in which coalition forces killed 600 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, as "a real success story," adding that the operation's purported success is "going to allow U.S. forces to withdraw in some measure." At no point during the segment did Doocy mention why the operation might have been necessary -- according to recent reports by USA Today and Reuters, the Afghan insurgency is a greater threat than at any point since the U.S.-led effort to expel the Taliban in 2001.
During an interview with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Neil Cavuto allowed DeLay to claim that "we went and got" the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, recent reports indicate that the security situation in Iraq and Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly.
On Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host Terry Keenan asked if the riots that occurred in Kabul, Afghanistan, were the work of "a small group of troublemakers" or whether "the Afghan people [are] simply ungrateful?" During the segment, onscreen text read "Afghan Ingrates?" and "Is Afghanistan being Ungrateful Towards America?"
Since March 23, each of the three major network nightly newscasts have uncritically reported administration statements expressing outrage over the prosecution and possible execution of an Afghan man for converting to Christianity, in defiance of Islamic law. But none of the nightly newscasts noted that when the Afghan constitution was ratified in 2004, President Bush hailed it for "lay[ing] the foundation for democratic institutions," despite a provision in the constitution asserting the supremacy of Islamic law.
In a discussion about a class project at a New Jersey high school involving the mock trial of President Bush for war crimes, Joe Scarborough said: "This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war."
New York Times staff writers David Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller used the opportunity presented by President Bush's March 3 visit to Pakistan to contrast Bush's "more public landing" on Air Force One with Clinton's 2000 visit, in which, Bumiller wrote, he "slipped into Islamabad for six hours on an unmarked military jet." However, both Sanger and Bumiller ignored the historical and political context of Clinton's trip to Pakistan and the security measures taken by Bush that undermine any notion that he "arrived with a roar on Air Force One."
Coverage of President Bush's speech by the Associated Press, USA Today and The Washington Times repeated the president's claims of success in Mosul and Najaf, without mentioning that both Iraqi cities still face continued security issues as well as religious and ethnic tensions.