Evening newscasts on ABC and NBC uncritically aired President Bush's nonsensical non-responses to questions about declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate; NBC and CBS presented misleading reports on the NIE's conclusions, both asserting that the declassified portion of the report at least in part backs up Bush.
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
ABC's Diane Sawyer let Bill O'Reilly misleadingly defend President Bush's efforts to pursue Osama bin Laden and to put forward without challenge the dubious claim that the so-called "traditionalist" cause O'Reilly champions in his book is "not a religious movement." Sawyer also failed to challenge O'Reilly on the numerous falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations in his new book.
A Media Matters review of major media outlets found that only The Washington Post highlighted the major differences between remarks by Republican Sens. John McCain and Bill Frist on separate Sunday morning news shows on August 24. While McCain stated that "waterboarding and other extreme measures such as extreme deprivation -- sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and others" could be illegal under new rules for U.S. interrogations of terrorism suspects, Frist asserted that "no responsible person" is going to "comment on individual techniques" that would or would not be permitted under the new law, because doing so "helps the terrorists."
ABC's World News Sunday reported Rev. Jerry Falwell's September 22 attack comparing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to "Lucifer" and quoted Tony Perkins attacking Democrats who discuss their faith. ABC did not, however, include Clinton's response to Falwell's comments, nor did the network note that for all of Perkins's talk of a "disconnect" between Democratic faith and policy, some religious groups have identified what they say are inconsistencies between Christian tenets and GOP policies as well.
In separate interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Matt Lauer and Robin Roberts failed to question Rice about President Bush's contradictory statements on the search for Osama bin Laden, as well as a recent report that the administration hired individuals to rebuild Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
A Media Matters for America review of cable and broadcast networks and major newspapers showed no coverage of a September 17 front-page Washington Post report by Rajiv Chandrasekaran detailing the process by which many individuals who "lacked vital skills and experience" were assigned to positions in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
In their reporting on incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) win in the September 12 Republican primary, ABC, CBS, and Fox News reported Chafee's win as making the state more challenging for Democrats to win the seat, while failing to note that Chafee's victory by no means assures his re-election and that Chafee's Democratic challenger got more votes in the primary than Chafee and his Republican primary challenger combined.
House Majority Leader John Boehner received widespread media coverage for his remark about Democratic colleagues: "Sometimes, based on the votes that get cast, you wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of the terrorists than in protecting the American people." Sen. Mary Landrieu responded to similar criticism in the Senate with an indictment of the Republicans' counterterrorism policies. Will the media highlight Landrieu's comments as they did Boehner's?
NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams was the only evening network news broadcast to report on a classified assessment by the Marine Corps intelligence chief in Iraq that describes that country's Anbar province as "lost."
Robin Roberts failed to challenge Tony Snow's false suggestion that Democrats oppose "listening in on terrorists." As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, critics of the administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program have not spoken out against "listening in on terrorists"; they have said only that the administration should act within the law and obtain warrants for such surveillance.
A Media Matters for America review of the conclusion of ABC's two-part miniseries, The Path to 9/11, contained scenes that were factually inaccurate, and that showed President Bush taking aggressive action there is no indication he ever took.
A Media Matters for America review of 12 reports on network evening news broadcasts covering President Bush's speeches and statements on Iraq, terrorism, and national security policy in the week preceding September 11 showed that the reports included responses from just five Democratic officials.