The first week of the new "Free Speech" segment on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric included appearances by Rudy Giuliani and Rush Limbaugh echoing GOP rhetoric on national security. But the program has offered no time to Democratic or progressive commentators to offer their views on the subject.
A Media Matters for America review of 12 reports on network evening news broadcasts covering President Bush's speeches and statements on Iraq, terrorism, and national security policy in the week preceding September 11 showed that the reports included responses from just five Democratic officials.
In an interview with President Bush, CBS' Katie Couric asked a number of softball questions and allowed the president to make numerous false and misleading claims regarding the Iraq war's effect on terrorism recruitment, the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, the ongoing hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the current state of port security in the United States.
In offering his analysis of President Bush's announcement that 14 terrorism detainees once held at secret prisons had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, CBS' Bob Schieffer ignored the politics behind Bush's move. Overlooking the fact that Bush was in no way obligated to make this announcement -- which apparently was timed for maximum political impact -- when he did, Schieffer claimed that Bush had "no choice" but to go to Congress now and request the authority to try the detainees. In stating that there was "no doubt" that Congress will grant Bush that authority, Schieffer ignored the criticism raised by three prominent Senate Republicans of Bush's proposed system for trying terrorism suspects.
In a "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News, Rush Limbaugh attacked unnamed critics who are "not interested in victory" over what he termed "Islamofascism" and who do not conform to his definition of "patriotism," specifically those who "are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us."
In coverage of President Bush's September 5 speech, during which he stated that the United States will not tolerate nations that "harbor" terrorists, CBS' Evening News with Katie Couric, NBC's Nightly News and Fox News' Special Report all ignored reports from the same day that purported U.S. ally Pakistan has signed a "peace deal" with local tribes reported to be allied with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, agreeing that it will cease military operations against them.
Several media figures and news outlets have uncritically repeated or lent credence to the false Republican talking point that Democrats, for all their criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, have no plan of their own to deal with Iraq, terrorism, and national security in general. In fact, Democrats have offered several plans for addressing various issues related to U.S. involvement in Iraq and national security.
Several media outlets, in their reporting on a response President Bush gave in his August 21 press conference to a question on Iraq, either excised or omitted Bush's admission that "sometimes I'm happy" when hearing about the situation there.
On CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer let Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) claim that he does "not  play partisan politics" and that his opponent, businessman Ned Lamont, is engaged in a "smear partisan political game." Schieffer made no mention of Lieberman's own claim -- in the wake of arrests made over an alleged terror plot in London -- that Lamont's proposed Iraq exit-strategy "would strengthen [terrorists]" and allow them to "strike again."
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.
During their August 9 coverage of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary, the three major broadcast networks' morning news programs interviewed Sen. Joseph Lieberman but failed to host the winner, Ned Lamont, or any of his representatives. Additionally, NBC's Today and CBS' The Early Show aired twice as much footage of Lieberman's statements following the election as they ran of Lamont's statements.
Numerous media outlets failed to challenge Donald Rumsfeld's claim to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that he had "never painted a rosy picture" about the Iraq war, despite Sen. Clinton's proffer of specific instances in which she claimed he did just that.