Conservative media figures have jumped to the defense of Mel Gibson after he made a series of anti-Semitic remarks when he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Many of the same media conservatives who continually attacked The New York Times for publishing details of the Treasury Department's bank-tracking program have remained silent about the New York Daily News' decision to report that FBI officials thwarted an alleged terrorist plot in New York City, despite apparent objections from intelligence and law enforcement officials that the disclosure impeded further arrests.
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.
Numerous conservative commentators joined the Bush administration in arguing that, in detailing a secret Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions, a June 23 New York Times article tipped off terrorists to the U.S. government's ability to track their financial activities -- some going so far as to accuse the newspaper of treason. But the Times report was hardly the first indication of U.S. efforts to monitor terrorists' financial transactions: President Bush himself repeatedly touted the government's capability to track and shut down terrorists' international financial networks.
In an online column, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote that President Bush, who in 2004 pledged to cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2009, may follow through on that pledge by the end of 2006. However, many experts have said that the Bush administration routinely offers inflated deficit projections so it can then take credit for actual deficits that come in below those projections.
A National Review Online article falsely claimed that Media Matters for America was among a variety of groups to accuse Gen. Michael V. Hayden of misrepresenting the Constitution in asserting in defense of the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program that the Fourth Amendment requires that the government meet only a "reasonable basis" standard rather than a stricter "probable cause" standard.
Byron York claimed that court papers pertaining to Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "contained the erroneous and later-corrected suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the National Intelligence Estimate [NIE]." York, however, misstated Fitzgerald's correction. In fact, Fitzgerald corrected the suggestion that Vice President Dick Cheney authorized Libby to tell Judith Miller that a "key judgment" of the 2002 NIE was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium -- not the "suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the" NIE, as York wrote.
Following recent demonstrations in which protesters marched against proposed legislation that would criminalize undocumented workers, some in the media have criticized the demonstrators for carrying Mexican flags. But these same media figures have not complained about people waving other nations' flags, such as Irish flags at St. Patrick's Day events, Italian flags at Columbus Day events, or Israeli flags at Israel Day events.
National Review White House correspondent Byron York wrote that Katharine Armstrong, the host of the hunting expedition during which Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a hunting partner, "said she did not coordinate with the vice president's office before calling" a Corpus Christi, Texas, newspaper. But when a spokeswoman for Cheney responded to the article by saying that, in fact, Armstrong and Cheney discussed specifically how the news would be disclosed to the public, York printed the White House response as an "author's note" at the bottom of the article, without explaining the discrepancy between the two accounts.
Numerous media figures highlighted the alleged "partisan" nature of Coretta Scott King's funeral but failed to comment on the politicization of Ronald Reagan's funeral.
Conservative media figures have defended the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program by citing a Rasmussen poll saying 64 percent of Americans believe "the National Security Agency [should] be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States." But the key issue, which the poll misrepresents, is not whether surveillance of terrorism suspects should take place at all -- something about which there is little controversy -- but whether President Bush violated the law by approving warrantless searches of domestic phone and email communications.