In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
During a profile of "scary smart," " 'girly' and fun" Condoleezza Rice, broadcast on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric let Rice make, without challenge, a series of false and misleading statements about the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and its use of prewar intelligence, as well as the war's effect on global instability. Couric tossed Rice softball questions, such as, "Is it hard for you to have a social life?" "[H]ow does one go about asking the secretary of state out on a date?"
Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer baselessly asserted that the September 22 deal struck by Republican senators and President Bush on the detention, interrogation, and trial of detainees "shows how we do things in a democracy -- out in the open, and in accordance with the law, even when dealing with the worst of the worst." In fact, the details of the agreement are largely unknown. Schieffer also allowed Sen. John McCain to suggest that Democrats are the reason, in Schieffer's words, that Congress "can't seem to get anything done," even though Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency.
A Media Matters review of major media outlets found that only The Washington Post highlighted the major differences between remarks by Republican Sens. John McCain and Bill Frist on separate Sunday morning news shows on August 24. While McCain stated that "waterboarding and other extreme measures such as extreme deprivation -- sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and others" could be illegal under new rules for U.S. interrogations of terrorism suspects, Frist asserted that "no responsible person" is going to "comment on individual techniques" that would or would not be permitted under the new law, because doing so "helps the terrorists."
A Media Matters for America review of cable and broadcast networks and major newspapers showed no coverage of a September 17 front-page Washington Post report by Rajiv Chandrasekaran detailing the process by which many individuals who "lacked vital skills and experience" were assigned to positions in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
HBO host Bill Maher claimed that CBS rejected his request to comment on religion for his planned "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News and would provide him with a list of "approved topics" that he might address. CBS reportedly has since denied Maher's allegations.
Numerous print and television outlets uncritically reported President Bush's response to a reporter's question about a letter by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which Powell argued that "[t]he world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Bush stated: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that." In fact, neither the question nor Powell's letter made any such comparison.
In their reporting on incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) win in the September 12 Republican primary, ABC, CBS, and Fox News reported Chafee's win as making the state more challenging for Democrats to win the seat, while failing to note that Chafee's victory by no means assures his re-election and that Chafee's Democratic challenger got more votes in the primary than Chafee and his Republican primary challenger combined.
NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams was the only evening network news broadcast to report on a classified assessment by the Marine Corps intelligence chief in Iraq that describes that country's Anbar province as "lost."
Both Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to justify the Iraq war by falsely suggesting that the 9-11 Commission report supports her claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had "contacts" with Al Qaeda before the U.S.-led invasion of that country in March 2003. Also, after Rice said she couldn't think of any specific "failures" in the Bush administration's fight against terrorism when asked by Wallace to identify one, Wallace failed to press her on the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large and his trail has reportedly gone "stone cold."
The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured a Muslim American in its "Free Speech" segment following commentary by Rudy Giuliani and Rush Limbaugh, but after six of the segments, the program has still not offered a Democratic or progressive take on national security.