Tim Russert allowed Richard Perle to selectively quote from a 2002 speech in which Al Gore said Saddam Hussein possessed hidden stockpiles of "chemical and biological weapons" and that Saddam's "search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter." Perle cited the speech to support his claim that it was a "widely accepted" view prior to the Iraq war that Saddam posed "an intolerable threat." But in the speech, Gore nonetheless vocally opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Tim Russert did not challenge Sen. John McCain's dubious claim that it is not "clear-cut" that the war is unpopular nationally because, if it were, Sen. Joe Lieberman "would not have been re-elected in the state of Connecticut." McCain also falsely claimed that "[a]t the time of the first Gulf War, only 15 percent of the American people thought we ought to go to Kuwait and get rid of Saddam Hussein there" and was not challenged by Russert about his changing positions on the number of additional troops he would like to see sent to Iraq.
New York Times chief military correspondent Michael Gordon asserted that "President Bush did listen to his generals over the past year and a half, and he did as -- implement the strategy that General [George W.] Casey [Jr.] advocated, and it didn't work." Fox News host Fred Barnes asserted that "the president is not doing what his commanders on the ground have urged, mainly because their policy has failed." But these assertions ignore reporting that Bush had been determining troop levels in Iraq and has "never left the decision to commanders."
Tim Russert let Newt Gingrich claim, without challenge, that the Internal Revenue Service "said there was nothing wrong" with funding a college course he had taught with tax-deductible donations. However, in its final report, the IRS wrote that "if the [House] Ethics Committee had rendered full cooperation with our examination, the transcripts might have affected our conclusion."
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On Meet the Press, host Tim Russert let former Reagan adviser Ken Adelman assert without challenge that "no one knew" that intelligence indicating Iraq had weapons of mass destruction "wasn't true" prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In fact, members of the intelligence community, including senior CIA analysts, challenged the accuracy of the intelligence that Iraq had WMDs.
Meet the Press host Tim Russert failed to challenge Sen. John McCain on the feasibility of his call for sending more U.S. troops to Iraq and his statement that "[w]e're either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months." Russert also failed to note that at the time McCain made a 2005 statement that ethanol mandates are "harmful" and "will result in higher gasoline costs for states," the price of oil had risen past the threshold at which McCain had previously claimed that ethanol mandates "make sense."