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.
On cbsnews.com's Public Eye weblog, CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod responded to a Media Matters for America item noting his mischaracterization of the debate over the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. In his response, however, Axelrod continued to misrepresent the "general" debate as one over "electronic surveillance." In doing so, Axelrod sets up the two sides of the debate in precisely the manner advocated by the program's defenders: those in favor of the "electronic eavesdropping of terrorists," as he characterized the debate in the original report, versus those opposed. But contrary to administration accusations, no one has come out in opposition to electronic eavesdropping in general, and certainly not to spying on terrorists.
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.
Following the White House Correspondents' dinner, numerous news outlets trumpeted President Bush's performance at the event, but entirely ignored the scathing routine delivered by the night's featured entertainer, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. In his act, Colbert mocked the White House's current woes, slammed a wide range of Bush administration policies, and lampooned the mainstream media.
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.