In their January 17 coverage of the Bush administration's "innovative" new approach to domestic surveillance, numerous television outlets called the development a "major change," a "sharp reversal," and an "about-face," but not one noted that the administration's explanations of its new approach have been highly ambiguous, leaving significant questions about the extent to which the administration is actually ceding authority to the courts.
In recent interviews with President Bush, Jim Lehrer and Scott Pelley did not challenge several false or misleading claims that President Bush made about Iraq.
A CBSNews.com article misrepresented the findings of the network's own poll to claim that "45 percent are in favor of the so-called troop 'surge,' while 48 percent are opposed." The poll question resulting in the 45 percent-48 percent split did not address President Bush's expected proposal for an increase of U.S. troops in Iraq.
While NBC has aired a segment on President Bush's "signing statement" on a postal reform bill that "quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant," ABC, CBS, and CNN have largely ignored the story, and ABC reported that Bush "acquired new powers" and suggested that they were "included" the bill.
On the CBS Evening News, Sharyl Attkisson uncritically aired former House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier's complaint that he is "very disappointed" that House Democrats planned to pass their "100 Hours" legislative agenda without Republican input, but she did not mention Dreier's remarks in 2003 justifying the Republicans' restrictive rules on amendments to legislation as "what it took to govern."
Major papers and the broadcast news networks have either ignored or downplayed the "personal and political baggage" identified by the staff of former New York City mayor and presumptive 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in a document that lays out his plan for a "bid for the White House."
CBS national security correspondent David Martin reported that Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham "were in Baghdad ... warning it will take more than [20,000 additional troops] to save Iraq," but Martin did not mention Gen. John Abizaid's assessment that such an increase would likely not improve the situation in Iraq.
Several media outlets have reported that if Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who recently had brain surgery, were "incapacitated" or "unable to serve in any way," that South Dakota's Republican governor would be responsible for selecting his replacement. However, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for circumstances in which an "incapacitated" senator can be replaced.
Media Matters for America has identified six findings in the Iraq Study Group's report that major news outlets have largely overlooked. They include: that the Pentagon has significantly underreported the extent of violence in Iraq, that U.S. officials possess little knowledge about the sources of the ongoing attacks, and that the situation in Afghanistan has grown so dire that U.S. troops may need to be diverted there from Iraq.
In reporting on Sunday talk-show appearances by national security adviser Stephen Hadley, several media outlets reported Hadley's characterization of a classified memo from Donald Rumsfeld as simply a "laundry list of ideas" about the U.S. presence in Iraq, and "not a proposal for a new course of action." However, Rumsfeld wrote in the memo, "In my view it is time for a major adjustment"; in the memo, Rumsfeld also created a category of preferred options, with "modest troop withdrawals" among them.
Even though Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate without losing a single seat -- an electoral feat last accomplished in 1938 -- the media have not highlighted this achievement in the two weeks after Election Day. But when Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, the first time since 1934 a president's party had done so during its first midterm election, news outlets praised it as "remarkable" and "historic."