Despite the significance of President Bush's November 1 pronouncement that Donald Rumsfeld will remain defense secretary until the end of his presidency, multiple media outlets have devoted much greater attention to the controversy over Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke."
On October 31, the network news led with coverage of the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke," downplaying a story on the U.S. military's accession to an order by Iraqi's prime minister to dismantle checkpoints around Sadr City that were part of an effort to locate a missing U.S. soldier. The Los Angeles Times ran the Kerry story on the front page of its print edition, relegating the story on Sadr City to Page 10.
Several days after ABC's Nightline ran a report on the ad wars of the 2006 elections, claiming, without providing any examples of Democratic-sponsored attack ads, that "both sides are playing a serious game of hardball" with "mudslinging" attack ads hitting "below the belt," NBC News followed its lead, airing a report on "dirty tricks" in political campaigns without any examples of "dirty tricks" by Democrats.
In her report on President Bush's signing of the controversial detainee bill, ABC's Martha Raddatz noted Sen. Russ Feingold's general opposition to the bill but gave no indication of Feingold's specific criticism -- that the bill "allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court." Nightly news broadcasts on NBC and CBS devoted little attention to the bill's signing and ignored Democratic criticism of it altogether.
Evening news programs on ABC and CBS made no mention that federal agents raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) daughter and her business partner, as well as four additional locations, as part of a reported investigation into whether Weldon improperly assisted their company. NBC's Nightly News did report on the raids, but NBC devoted equal time to Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's announcement that he would issue updated disclosure forms to add more details of a land transaction, without noting a key difference: There are no allegations that Reid used his office to benefit from the land deal.
The AP's Terence Hunt and NBC News' David Gregory both reported President Bush's "veiled swipe" at the Clinton administration's North Korea policy, in which Bush said, "I appreciate the efforts of previous administrations. It just didn't work." But neither noted that, following the Clinton administration's signing of the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, that country did not produce any plutonium until 2002, when the Bush administration abandoned the agreement.
ABC, NBC, and CBS reported that, during a recent press conference, President Bush stated that he is "open" to changing the administration's Iraq war policy, but did not note that, during that same press conference, Bush reiterated his claim that the United States will not "leave before the job is done."
Newscasts on NBC and CBS uncritically aired a clip of Rep. Adam Putnam claiming that Republicans "acted proactively" and "aggressively" in demanding Rep. Mark Foley's resignation. In fact, Foley reportedly resigned after being told by ABC News that it was going to make public sexually explicit instant messages linked to him, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert's own statements regarding the events leading up to Foley's resignation have been contradictory.
In their coverage of the Foley scandal's political effects, numerous media figures have suggested that conservative Christians are most likely to react negatively to the Foley scandal. In doing so, they presume that so-called "values voters" are more concerned than others with protecting children.
In reporting on House ethics committee chairman Doc Hastings's announcement that the committee would investigate the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley, numerous media outlets ignored questions regarding Hastings's appointment as chairman in February 2005 and his conduct since taking over the post.
CBS and NBC have almost completely ignored Roll Call's revelation that a House committee is preparing to release a bipartisan report documenting closer ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff than the Bush White House previously acknowledged.
The Associated Press and NBC's Nightly News uncritically reported Tony Snow's dismissal of the National Intelligence Estimate's findings that the Iraq war has fueled terrorism. Snow claimed that the NIE is "a snapshot ... of what's going on in the region." However, work on the NIE reportedly began in 2004, and, as CBS reported, the NIE "is really a forecast" that "analyzes the nature of the threat terrorist groups will pose during the next five years."