In response to the reports describing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity, President Bush and other White House officials lashed out at the media -- and The New York Times in particular -- for purportedly undermining the government's antiterrorism efforts. But as with the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance and domestic call-tracking programs, the administration and its supporters in the media have relied on numerous false and misleading claims to support their arguments.
Chris Matthews failed to challenge Rep. Peter King's false claim that The New York Times is "acknowledging" that a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions "is legal." However, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has stated that "[i]t's not [the Times'] job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal." The Times has also reported that banking experts, as well as banking executives and Bush administration officials familiar with the program, have concerns about its legality.
Bill O'Reilly railed against The New York Times' disclosure of a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, falsely claiming that "by all accounts" the program is "entirely legal" and that "[n]obody is asserting that they [the Bush administration] overstepped their authority." Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter similarly asserted that "no one thinks" the program "violates any laws." In fact, some legal experts and politicians have indeed questioned the legality of the newly disclosed program.
Numerous conservative media figures have lashed out at The New York Times and its executive editor, Bill Keller, over an article describing a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, arguing that the publication of the article was a treasonous act and suggesting that the newspaper is "sid[ing] with al Qaeda" and "aiding and abetting the terrorist movement."
On Scarborough Country, Ann Coulter purported to defend her attacks on some of the widows of September 11 victims, claiming that she has "heard from lots of 9-11 widows who think I wasn't harsh enough."
Joe Scarborough baselessly claimed that "the majority" of Senate Democrats, by voting against a proposal by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to redeploy troops from Iraq by mid-2007, "voted with George Bush" to "maintain the course in Iraq." In fact, 37 of 43 Senate Democrats voted in favor of a nonbinding amendment sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) calling for "the beginning of a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year," which all but one Republican voted against.
Recent reports on the reported activation of the U.S. ground-based missile defense system have overstated its ability to defend against an actual attack and uncritically reported administration claims about its effectiveness. Government Accountability Office reports indicate that the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.
Keith Olbermann handed out his nightly "Worst Person in the World" awards, with Geraldo Rivera receiving runner-up honors, behind Saddam Hussein, for saying that "in the last 35 years, I've seen a hell of a lot more combat" than Sen. John Kerry. John Gibson was awarded third place for claiming that "human-rights groups" hadn't "sa[id] a word" about reports that two U.S. soldiers had been brutally tortured and murdered.
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell accepted as true Sen. John McCain's false assertion that he "refuse[s] to use" the words "cut and run" to describe plans to redeploy U.S. forces out of Iraq. In fact, McCain has repeatedly used those words to describe such plans, and to attack Democrats who support them.
Guest-hosting MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Michael Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse as "naked pyramid pictures" and "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud." Smerconish claimed to be criticizing "the people who worked themselves into a lather" over reports of detainee mistreatment while ignoring the "dirtbags" who are "thinking about whose head they want to chop off next."
While CNN continued to hype the divisions among Democrats on the issue of U.S. redeployment from Iraq, stemming from the debate over two Senate proposals on the issue, the network entirely ignored a recent display of dissention within the Republican Party, as did Fox News and MSNBC.
A day after interviewing Howard Dean, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell sat down with his Republican counterpart, Ken Mehlman, affording Media Matters for America the opportunity to make a direct comparison of the two interviews.
During separate one-on-one interviews with Howard Dean and Sen. George Allen, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell gave starkly different treatments to each -- asking Dean to respond to Republican attacks on Democrats for most of his interview, while favoring Allen with only two questions that asked him to address criticism of Republicans.
On MSNBC, Don Imus failed to challenge White House press secretary Tony Snow's false claim that President Bush never linked the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In fact, both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have done so.
On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, right-wing radio host Debbie Schlussel falsely claimed that "there wasn't a peep" from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when Suha Arafat, wife of former Palestinian National Authority president Yasir Arafat, stated that Israelis "poison Palestinian water and air and cause cancer for them." In fact, Clinton disavowed Arafat's remarks after receiving an official translation. Schlussel also joined other conservatives and media figures in defending right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's recent attacks against widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.