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.
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."
HBO host Bill Maher claimed that CBS rejected his request to comment on religion for his planned "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News and would provide him with a list of "approved topics" that he might address. CBS reportedly has since denied Maher's allegations.
Numerous print and television outlets uncritically reported President Bush's response to a reporter's question about a letter by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which Powell argued that "[t]he world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Bush stated: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that." In fact, neither the question nor Powell's letter made any such comparison.
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."
The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured a Muslim American in its "Free Speech" segment following commentary by Rudy Giuliani and Rush Limbaugh, but after six of the segments, the program has still not offered a Democratic or progressive take on national security.
The first week of the new "Free Speech" segment on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric included appearances by Rudy Giuliani and Rush Limbaugh echoing GOP rhetoric on national security. But the program has offered no time to Democratic or progressive commentators to offer their views on the subject.
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.
In an interview with President Bush, CBS' Katie Couric asked a number of softball questions and allowed the president to make numerous false and misleading claims regarding the Iraq war's effect on terrorism recruitment, the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, the ongoing hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the current state of port security in the United States.
In offering his analysis of President Bush's announcement that 14 terrorism detainees once held at secret prisons had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, CBS' Bob Schieffer ignored the politics behind Bush's move. Overlooking the fact that Bush was in no way obligated to make this announcement -- which apparently was timed for maximum political impact -- when he did, Schieffer claimed that Bush had "no choice" but to go to Congress now and request the authority to try the detainees. In stating that there was "no doubt" that Congress will grant Bush that authority, Schieffer ignored the criticism raised by three prominent Senate Republicans of Bush's proposed system for trying terrorism suspects.
In a "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News, Rush Limbaugh attacked unnamed critics who are "not interested in victory" over what he termed "Islamofascism" and who do not conform to his definition of "patriotism," specifically those who "are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us."
In coverage of President Bush's September 5 speech, during which he stated that the United States will not tolerate nations that "harbor" terrorists, CBS' Evening News with Katie Couric, NBC's Nightly News and Fox News' Special Report all ignored reports from the same day that purported U.S. ally Pakistan has signed a "peace deal" with local tribes reported to be allied with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, agreeing that it will cease military operations against them.