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."
CBS' Bob Schieffer baselessly claimed that many of the freshman Democratic House members are "conservative"; Tucker Carlson called newly elected Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler "more conservative than most Republicans in the House." In fact, the Democratic candidates who won Republican-held seats in the November 7 midterm elections, including Shuler, have said they support central issues in the Democratic platform.
Reporting on President Bush's announcement of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation, media outlets, with few exceptions, have avoided characterizing Bush's assertion the previous week that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as a "lie" or intentional misrepresentation -- this, despite Bush's own admission of a deliberate deception. Some outlets even failed to acknowledge Bush's previous statement that Rumsfeld would stay on as defense secretary until the end of his presidency.
Media figures have attributed Democratic gains in the House and Senate in the midterm elections to the number of wins by conservative or moderate Democratic challengers and have suggested that because the party's victory in the House was purportedly "built on the back of more centrist candidates," the incoming Democratic majority will be sharply divided. However, a Media Matters for America survey of the policy positions of 27 victorious House candidates found that they all agree on a core set of issues, including raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security.
On November 6, all three major network evening news broadcasts pointed to "new polling" to assert that the midterm elections are "tightening." In doing so, these outlets ignored several polls released during the same period that indicate the gap between Democrats and Republicans is stable or widening.