Media Matters responds to criticism by Vaughn Ververs, editor of CBS News' Public Eye weblog, of our report "If It's Sunday, It's Conservative."
A Media Matters review found that, following the revelation of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, recent television news coverage has quoted or replayed President Bush's 2004 denial of such a program far less than President Clinton's denial of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky during a comparable period in 1998 following his acknowledgment of such a relationship.
On CBS' Face the Nation, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller repeatedly pressed Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean to respond to Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman's recent description of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as "angry."
During a report on a dispute between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, CBS' Gloria Borger uncritically presented McCain's side of the dispute. While she noted that McCain accused Obama of distancing himself from McCain's reform proposals for "partisan reasons," she said: "It's very clear that lobbying reform is a very personal issue for John McCain. It's very important to John McCain."
CNN's Jeff Greenfield chided Rep. Robert Wexler for releasing a rebuttal of President Bush's State of the Union address without actually seeing the speech. But as it has in past years, the White House made excerpts of the speech available well before it was delivered, leaving Wexler ample time to read the excerpts before issuing his response.
Following President Bush's State of the Union address, various media figures described his defense of domestic eavesdropping as "strong," "vigorous," and "fierce." But they failed to note the numerous inaccuracies Bush employed in justifying the surveillance program, whose legality has been challenged not just by Democrats, but by Republicans and some prominent conservative legal scholars as well.
CBS' John Roberts selectively cited the results of a poll to claim that Americans support President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, but the full poll results show that the public's view of the program is more evenly divided.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rejected a Democratic study that showed that the military has been strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Schieffer did not note that Rumsfeld also rejected a Pentagon-funded report that came to a similar conclusion.
Numerous media outlets have cited Gen. Michael V. Hayden's defense of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program while ignoring a Justice Department statement from June 2002 that contradicted Hayden's claims. Now that the statement has surfaced, will those media outlets now report the facts undermining Hayden's defense?
Many news outlets have uncritically repeated Gen. Michael Hayden's claim that the administration's warrantless spying program would have detected some of the 9-11 attackers.
In coverage of President Bush's January 23 speech at Kansas State University, evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC uncritically reported Bush's assertion that his "briefing Congress" about his authorization of warrantless domestic wiretaps by the National Security Agency shows that he believed the wiretapping program was legal; however, members of Congress from both parties have disputed the claim that they were adequately briefed. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said that the "program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
News outlets reported that the Republican-sponsored ethics reform package would ban lobbyist-paid travel. But the proposed reform measure would still allow lobbyist-paid meals and trips as long as they were offered as campaign fundraising activities.
Numerous media outlets echoed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's criticisms of former Vice President Al Gore's January 16 speech, which was highly critical of President Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic espionage in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Gonzales argued that Gore was being "inconsistent" because the Clinton administration did the same thing; in fact, Clinton's use of warrantless physical searches, which Gonzales cited, did not violate FISA because at the time FISA did not address physical searches.
CBS, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post reported without challenge the disputed claim that President Bush has the legal authority to instruct the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of people in the United States without obtaining warrants.