A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
In reporting on the purported pullout plan proposed by Gen. George Casey Jr. for Iraq, on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Joie Chen stated: "It's not a cut-and-run strategy, but the report suggests the Pentagon is contemplating a sharp change in direction, a way out for some forces." Chen did not say how she thought Casey's reported plan differs from what the White House and Senate Republicans have labeled the Democrats' "cut-and-run" proposals for U.S. troop withdrawals.
Recent reports on the reported activation of the U.S. ground-based missile defense system have overstated its ability to defend against an actual attack and uncritically reported administration claims about its effectiveness. Government Accountability Office reports indicate that the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.
On CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer did not challenge White House press secretary Tony Snow's claims about the state of the war in Iraq, including Snow's assertion that Iraqi leaders want U.S. troops to remain in their country.
On June 18, The Washington Post published a cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq that detailed the deteriorating conditions observed in Baghdad in recent months. Despite the clear significance of the document, the media have almost entirely ignored its publication.
Broadcast networks covering the news that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald reportedly told White House senior adviser Karl Rove that he does not anticipate charging Rove in connection with the CIA leak investigation left out key information concerning Rove's conduct and the false and misleading information put out by the White House concerning the matter. Rove's history of falsely claiming that he was not involved in disclosing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was ignored or downplayed, as was the White House's false denials of Rove's role.
In an article based on information from the Center for Public Integrity's recent analysis of privately funded congressional travel, Washington Post staff writer Jeffrey Birnbaum largely depicted the issue of members accepting privately funded trips as a bipartisan one. But Birnbaum omitted several pertinent findings that show greater participation by Republican lawmakers and staff than by Democrats.
During interviews with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on CBS' Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, and CNN's Late Edition, the shows' hosts noted that the Bush administration's recent offer to hold direct talks with Iranian officials on its nuclear program is a significant shift for the White House. But none of the hosts asked Rice to explain why the shift in policy came now rather than in 2003, when the U.S. reportedly rejected an overture from Iran in which the country pledged to suspend its "endeavors to develop or possess WMD" in exchange for concessions from the United States.
Reports on the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News Tonight noted treasury secretary nominee Henry M. Paulson's environmentally friendly outlook but failed to report that Goldman Sachs, the investment bank Paulson leads, and The Nature Conservancy, an organization where Paulson serves as board chairman, have both urged mandatory reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, a policy the Bush administration has categorically rejected.
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 the formation of the Iraqi cabinet, ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, and NBC's Today each failed to note that three of most critical positions in the new government -- the heads of the defense, national security, and interior ministries -- remain vacant.
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 CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer failed to challenge misleading claims by national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley about the scope of the National Security Agency's (NSA) various domestic surveillance activities and the effect of their public disclosure. Further, Schieffer adopted the White House's favored terminology for the NSA's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, calling it the "terrorist surveillance program."
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.