In their reporting on the conviction of former Enron Corp. executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling on fraud and conspiracy charges, the network news programs all failed to mention the ties between the fallen corporation and President Bush. Further, the Los Angeles Times ran six separate articles on the Enron verdicts on May 26, but not a single one noted Bush's connection to Enron and, in particular, his close personal and political ties to Lay.
On CBS Evening News, Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson uncritically reported Rep. Walter B. Jones's (R-NC) baseless claim that "call[ing] for no guest worker program" for immigrants is "much more in line with the desires of the American people" than an immigration bill that features such a provision. In fact, public opinion polls do not support Jones's assertion.
In reporting on President Bush's visit to Arizona to promote his immigration reform proposals, ABC World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas and CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante claimed that Bush was "passionate" about "allowing migrants a chance" but completely ignored the fact that the White House reportedly supported a controversial immigration bill proposed by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) that would have made it a felony to be an illegal resident of the United States.
On the CBS Evening News, CBS Washington correspondent Bob Orr reported that President Bush "asked Congress to give him the authority to raise the mileage requirement for cars." This is at least the second time CBS neglected to mention that support of higher mileage standards is a significant shift by a White House that, as recently as February, opposed increasing efficiency standards for passenger cars.
CBS News' Jim Stewart minimized former CIA executive director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo's involvement in the burgeoning corruption and bribery scandal centered around defense contractor Brent Wilkes. Noting that Foggo had resigned his position, Stewart reported that Foggo "had been somewhat linked to a contract scandal in Congress, but people say that is not the reason he left. He simply decided that with his boss gone, it was time for him to leave as well." But Stewart's statement "somewhat" understates Foggo's connections to the "contract scandal."
CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Axelrod, reporting on CIA-director nominee Gen. Michael V. Hayden's forthcoming Senate nomination hearings, noted that "[t]he White House believes it wins any time there's a debate on electronic eavesdropping of terrorists and would welcome the grand stage for Hayden to defend" the Bush administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program. However, the debate over the surveillance program is not a question of whether the government can conduct "electronic eavesdropping of terrorists," but rather whether the government can conduct warrantless surveillance of residents of the United States in apparent violation of federal statute.
After a speech by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on May 4, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern questioned Rumsfeld over his previous claims about Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld gave misleading answers, which McGovern pointed out during the exchange. But in their coverage, NBC, CBS, and Fox News deceptively edited the exchange, excluding McGovern's rebuttals of Rumsfeld's claims without noting that they had done so.
Both the CBS Evening News and NBC's Nightly News reported that President Bush endorsed a proposal by Senate Republicans to grant the executive branch authority to set fuel-efficiency standards for cars -- a power that currently resides with Congress. CBS and NBC failed to note, however, that this move by Bush represents a significant shift for the White House, which opposed, as recently as February, increasing efficiency standards for passenger cars.
On April 17, numerous news outlets -- including NBC, CBS, NPR, and Fox News -- covering former Illinois governor George Ryan's conviction on corruption charges failed to mention that he is a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan's Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."
Reporting on the disappointed reaction of Sen. John McCain to the lobbying reform bill that was passed by the Senate on March 29, CBS' Gloria Borger mentioned McCain's pledge that continued congressional investigations into the Jack Abramoff scandal should "light a fire under [McCain's] colleagues." However, Borger ignored reports that, as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, McCain steered the investigation into the Abramoff scandal away from examining any potential wrongdoing by his Republican colleagues.
Since a March 27 New York Times article confirmed that a leaked British memo appears to contradict President Bush's repeated claim prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that he wanted to avoid war, media have failed to note the full significance of the document and in some cases ignored the story altogether.
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.
On the CBS Evening News, Washington correspondent Bob Orr characterized a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations proposal allowing tax return preparers to sell information from returns to third parties as spelling out a "loophole of sorts" that has "been around for more than 30 years." In fact, in permitting sales to third parties, the new proposal would allow tax preparers to do something they are not currently permitted to do; under current law, they can pass on such information only to affiliates.
CBS correspondent Gloria Borger misrepresented the terms of new legislation, reportedly agreed to by Senate Republicans and the White House, affecting the administration's domestic spying program. Borger reported that in order to conduct warrantless surveillance under the new legislation, the president would first be required to "explain why he needs to eavesdrop to a newly created congressional subcommittee." In fact, the legislation as reported would let the president authorize warrantless surveillance of Americans for up to 45 days without informing Congress.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported on deals in which Dubai Ports World (DPW) would assume control of terminal operations six U.S. ports and in which "another Arab company" plans "to buy plants in the United States that make parts for planes and tanks." However, in both instances, Schieffer failed to mention that the companies involved are owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- a legal distinction that is central to whether each deal should be subject to an additional 45-day review for national security concerns.