On Fox News Sunday, Michael Barone falsely claimed that Democrats would prefer to "hang up the phone and go to court," rather than "listening to what ... terrorists are plotting." In fact, Democrats -- and numerous Republicans and conservatives -- have said nothing of the sort, pointing to a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Bush administration has apparently violated, that allows the government to undertake surveillance in emergency situations for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant.
Fox News' Brit Hume baselessly smeared House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), stating that she "is not a popular figure or respected figure nationally." Hume asserted that having Pelosi as speaker of the House "would not be terrifically positive" for "the possibility of Hillary Clinton being nominated or even elected in 2008," but he cited no specifics to support this claim, and recent public opinion polls do not back up his suggestion that the public has formed a negative view of Pelosi.
A Philadelphia Inquirer article characterized an admitted affair between Rep. Don Sherwood and a "woman in her 20s" as "Clintonian," even though the affair was reportedly exposed as a result of allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress. An item in ABC News' political newsletter, The Note, and a report on Fox News Sunday by Mara Liasson ignored the abuse allegations altogether.
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On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume asserted that there is a "difference" between the Democratic and Republican parties because former Republican Rep. Mark Foley is "out of office and in total disgrace in his party" after allegedly engaging in sexually explicit communications with underage congressional pages, while President Bill Clinton and Rep. Barney Frank were not similarly reprimanded for their "inappropriate behavior." However, neither the Clinton nor the Frank allegations involved minors.
On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson asserted that "there are plenty of aspects of the media that have blamed President Bush every step of the way for every misstep," but gave no examples to support her claim. She then falsely suggested that the press was not to blame for its treatment of Bush on Iraq, since everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But she made no mention of mounting evidence that the Bush administration had reason to know that its claims about Saddam Hussein were false.
During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."
Fox News anchors and commentators seized upon a Washington Post editorial falsely asserting that the revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity disproved the notion of a coordinated effort within the White House to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, using the occasion to repeat a host of false claims about the CIA leak case.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
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.
Brit Hume failed to challenge L. Paul Bremer's claim that the United States "had enough troops" in Baghdad following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003 to prevent widespread looting, but that U.S. forces "didn't have orders to stop the looting." In October 2004, Bremer had asserted that the United States "never had enough troops on the ground" to stop the looting, and that "it would have been helpful to have had more troops ... to stop the looting."
Numerous conservative pundits offered highly optimistic predictions about the U.S. invasion of Iraq regarding the conflict's duration, difficulty, and human and financial costs -- nearly all of which have proven to be wrong. But rather than hold these "Pollyanna pundits" accountable for their past misjudgments, the media have again provided a platform for their views about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. And echoing their rhetoric on Iraq, these conservative pundits have advocated further military action by the United States and its allies.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume failed to challenge House Speaker Dennis Hastert's assertion that the "disruptive" "foreign influence" in Iraq is "getting shut down." In fact, a Congressional Research Service report found that foreign influence -- political, economic, and military -- in Iraq, particularly by Iran, remains considerable and is not likely to subside in the near future.