ABC World News and CBS Evening News aired comments by President Bush at his January 12 press conference in defense of his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina, during which he asserted in part: "[C]ould I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge?" However, neither network's report noted the bipartisan congressional criticism of the Bush administration's response to Katrina.
ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News and uncritically aired President Bush's statement that "Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment," without noting that a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report found that the abuse there "was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own" and that Donald Rumsfeld's "authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody."
Several media outlets touted President Bush's purported candor during an ABC interview with Charles Gibson in which Bush said the "biggest regret" of his presidency was the "intelligence failure" regarding the absence of WMD in Iraq and declined to "speculate" whether the administration would have invaded Iraq if the intelligence had shown no WMD. But none of these reports noted the substantial evidence that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq regardless of the available intelligence, or mentioned the substantial uncertainty about the evidence the administration cited in support of the war.
On all three network evening news programs, reports on the bailout of Citigroup included interviews with supporters of the deal, but only the CBS Evening News included any criticism of the bailout -- and that criticism came from a source who argued that the bailout was not large enough. None of the reports featured criticism of the bailout on the grounds that it is a poor deal for taxpayers, even though several economists have made that argument.
On World News, Jake Tapper quoted House Minority Leader John Boehner's statement that Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who has agreed to be President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, "is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center." However, Tapper did not note that Sen. Lindsey Graham praised Emanuel as "a wise choice," saying Emanuel "understands the need to work together."
ABC's David Wright reported without challenging Sen. John McCain's claim to voters in New Hampshire that Sen. Barack Obama "wants to confiscate their hard-earned money." Wright did not note that Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income taxpayers, while raising taxes only on individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year.
During a preview of the third presidential debate on ABC's World News, David Wright said that Sen. John McCain "plans to present [Sen. Barack] Obama as someone who will raise your taxes" and will "question Obama's judgment and character following from [Gov.] Sarah Palin's charge that Obama has been palling around with terrorists, like former '60s radical William Ayers" without noting the misrepresentations in those attacks.
On World News, Jake Tapper reported on "accusations of voter fraud" against ACORN workers, noting that "ACORN officials said the primary problem isn't a few phony names on voter registrations, but real voters being prevented from casting their ballots." But World News did not report on the indictment of former RNC official James Tobin and in the past two weeks has not aired any reports on the issue of voter suppression.
ABC News correspondent Kate Snow uncritically quoted Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that Sen. Barack Obama voted for "[c]utting off funding for our troops while in a war zone." However, Snow did not report that Sen. John McCain voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as Obama noted during the September 26 presidential debate.
During her ABC World News report on the Bush administration's $700 billion Wall Street proposal, Betsy Stark uncritically aired Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's claim that he "welcome[s]" oversight of the administration's plan, but did not note that a section of the bill states: "Decisions by the Secretary [of the Treasury] pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
ABC's David Wright aired a quote of Sen. John McCain saying during a September 16 speech that "[o]ur economy is broken." But Wright did not note that the previous day -- and many times before that -- McCain made a remark that was flatly inconsistent with that comment, saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."
After airing a video clip of Sen. Barack Obama saying of the "the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq," "I've already said, it's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams," ABC's David Wright stated, "The McCain campaign has been pushing Obama for weeks to admit that he was wrong to oppose the surge, a policy McCain championed early on," falsely suggesting that Obama said during his interview that he was wrong to oppose the surge.
In a September 3 interview, Charles Gibson did not challenge the claim by Sen. John McCain that after Sarah Palin obtained millions of dollars in earmarks as mayor of her home town, she "learned that earmarks are bad" when she became governor and said, "No more for my state." At no point did Gibson point out that as governor, Palin, by her own account, requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for Alaska just this year. ABC News did not air that part of the interview on the September 3 broadcast of World News, much less note that McCain was promoting a false claim.
ABC's Jake Tapper reported that Sen. John McCain "has attacked Obama for being ... anti-troops." On-screen, a clip from a McCain campaign ad displayed the text "Against Troop Funding," with several references to congressional votes. But Tapper did not note that McCain has also voted against legislation funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that Sen. Barack Obama has voted numerous times to fund the wars.
On World News, Charles Gibson and David Wright suggested that Sen. Barack Obama's and Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns were equally guilty of "negative attacks." However, Wright provided no evidence that Obama had engaged in negative attacks, stating only that Obama is "constantly comparing McCain to President Bush."