Since a March 27 New York Times article confirmed that a leaked British memo appears to contradict President Bush's repeated claim prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that he wanted to avoid war, media have failed to note the full significance of the document and in some cases ignored the story altogether.
Since March 23, each of the three major network nightly newscasts have uncritically reported administration statements expressing outrage over the prosecution and possible execution of an Afghan man for converting to Christianity, in defiance of Islamic law. But none of the nightly newscasts noted that when the Afghan constitution was ratified in 2004, President Bush hailed it for "lay[ing] the foundation for democratic institutions," despite a provision in the constitution asserting the supremacy of Islamic law.
On the CBS Evening News, Washington correspondent Bob Orr characterized a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations proposal allowing tax return preparers to sell information from returns to third parties as spelling out a "loophole of sorts" that has "been around for more than 30 years." In fact, in permitting sales to third parties, the new proposal would allow tax preparers to do something they are not currently permitted to do; under current law, they can pass on such information only to affiliates.
During a March 21 press conference, the White House press corps failed to challenge President Bush after he offered a misleading and evasive answer about his reasons for invading Iraq in response to a question asked by Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas.
During an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney on CBS' Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer failed to challenge assertions Cheney made regarding the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, and recent low polling numbers.
CBS correspondent Gloria Borger misrepresented the terms of new legislation, reportedly agreed to by Senate Republicans and the White House, affecting the administration's domestic spying program. Borger reported that in order to conduct warrantless surveillance under the new legislation, the president would first be required to "explain why he needs to eavesdrop to a newly created congressional subcommittee." In fact, the legislation as reported would let the president authorize warrantless surveillance of Americans for up to 45 days without informing Congress.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported on deals in which Dubai Ports World (DPW) would assume control of terminal operations six U.S. ports and in which "another Arab company" plans "to buy plants in the United States that make parts for planes and tanks." However, in both instances, Schieffer failed to mention that the companies involved are owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- a legal distinction that is central to whether each deal should be subject to an additional 45-day review for national security concerns.
CBS News correspondent Bob Orr uncritically reported the White House's "explanation" for why President Bush falsely claimed that nobody anticipated that Hurricane Katrina would cause breaches in New Orleans levees and flood the city. Orr reported that the White House stated that Katrina "was a Category 3" storm when it made landfall but did not mention that, at the time, it was assessed as a more powerful Category 4 hurricane.
Most major print and broadcast media outlets offered no coverage of House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King's March 1 claim that there was "no investigation into terrorism whatsoever" during the Bush administration's initial review of the proposed deal that would allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) to assume control of terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.
CBS' Face the Nation featured New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman as a guest interviewer for a segment with White House national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, during which they discussed the controversy surrounding the Bush administration's ports deal with a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rather than selecting an interviewer to challenge Hadley and the Bush administration's position on the ports deal, CBS instead chose Friedman, who two days earlier had written in his Times column that "the president is right" and "[t]he port deal should go ahead."
Vice President Dick Cheney's recent hunting accident offered yet another example of an unmistakable pattern with the Bush administration, which few in the media have noted. When faced with potential political damage stemming from its actions or decisions, the Bush White House attacks those fomenting the criticism; Cheney or President Bush then take to the airwaves and appear to temper the debate -- while benefiting from whatever discrediting their surrogates' smears brought on their targets.
Numerous media outlets and commentators have gone to great lengths to avoid using some version of the simplest construction to describe Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting partner, Harry Whittington: Cheney shot Whittington. Instead, the media have come up with alternative formulations that have the effect of distancing Cheney from the incident.
Following Vice President Dick Cheney's exclusive February 15 interview with Fox News' Brit Hume, the media widely reported that he took "full responsibility" for accidentally shooting Harry Whittington while hunting. But numerous news outlets have ignored that Cheney's acceptance of responsibility contradicts his friends' prior statements that Whittington was to blame.
Reporting on Vice President Dick Cheney's admission that he had consumed "a beer at lunch" prior to accidentally shooting a hunting companion, numerous media outlets failed to report that Cheney's admission contradicted earlier statements by Katharine and Anne Armstrong, co-owners of the ranch where the accident occurred, who had said that Dr. Pepper was served with lunch and "heavily implied," according to The New York Times, that "no alcohol was served at all."
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."