Matthews mix-up: falsely suggested censure supporters were only members of Congress questioning legality of warrantless surveillance program
Research ››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER
Chris Matthews falsely conflated those members of Congress who have publicly supported Sen. Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush over his warrantless domestic eavesdropping program and the far larger group who has said that Bush might have acted illegally in authorizing the program.
On the March 31 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews falsely conflated those members of Congress who have publicly supported Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) resolution to censure President Bush over his warrantless domestic eavesdropping program and those -- a far larger group -- who have said that Bush might have acted illegally in authorizing the program. Matthews referred to recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to consider Feingold's resolution, and then asked: "Did the president break the law? So far, three Democrats say, 'Yes, he did,' and all Republicans say, 'It's nuts.' " In fact, while only a few Democratic senators have pledged support for Feingold's censure motion, many more Democrats -- and Republicans -- have said that the administration's warrantless surveillance may be illegal.
Media Matters for America noted (here, here, here and here) that numerous media outlets have mischaracterized bipartisan concerns about Bush's domestic spying program by suggesting that only Democrats have questioned its legality. But many Republicans and conservatives have also expressed serious concerns about the legality of the domestic eavesdropping. They include Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), John E. Sununu (R-NH), Sam Brownback (R-KS), former Reagan deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
From the March 31 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews, and welcome to Hardball. While President Bush wraps up his spring break summit in Cancun, its Congress gone wild back on Capitol Hill. Watergate veteran John Dean testified today in support of Senator Russ Feingold's move to censure the president for authorizing the NSA's [National Security Agency] once-secret domestic wiretapping program. Did the president break the law? So far, three Democrats say, "Yes, he did," and all Republicans say, "It's nuts."