In their reporting on the conviction of former Enron Corp. executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling on fraud and conspiracy charges, the network news programs all failed to mention the ties between the fallen corporation and President Bush. Further, the Los Angeles Times ran six separate articles on the Enron verdicts on May 26, but not a single one noted Bush's connection to Enron and, in particular, his close personal and political ties to Lay.
Reports by both ABC's World News Tonight and NBC's Nightly News on the Senate hearing for Gen. Michael Hayden's nomination to be CIA director aired Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) comment that he had "a difficult time with [Hayden's] credibility." But neither network mentioned the reasons cited by Wyden to explain his concern, including Hayden's misleading statement to Congress in 2002 that the National Security Agency did not have the authority to electronically eavesdrop on residents without a warrant -- even as the NSA was reportedly conducting such surveillance.
After a speech by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on May 4, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern questioned Rumsfeld over his previous claims about Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld gave misleading answers, which McGovern pointed out during the exchange. But in their coverage, NBC, CBS, and Fox News deceptively edited the exchange, excluding McGovern's rebuttals of Rumsfeld's claims without noting that they had done so.
Following the White House Correspondents' dinner, numerous news outlets trumpeted President Bush's performance at the event, but entirely ignored the scathing routine delivered by the night's featured entertainer, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. In his act, Colbert mocked the White House's current woes, slammed a wide range of Bush administration policies, and lampooned the mainstream media.
Both the CBS Evening News and NBC's Nightly News reported that President Bush endorsed a proposal by Senate Republicans to grant the executive branch authority to set fuel-efficiency standards for cars -- a power that currently resides with Congress. CBS and NBC failed to note, however, that this move by Bush represents a significant shift for the White House, which opposed, as recently as February, increasing efficiency standards for passenger cars.
Reporting on a meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao, NBC News' David Gregory said that protesters from the banned religious movement Falun Gong, including one who interrupted Hu's remarks to plead that Bush "stop him [Hu] from killing," provided a "fitting backdrop to a strong message the president sent on human rights in China." But Gregory ignored the fact that, as The Washington Post reported on April 21, "Bush did not mention the persecution of Falun Gong, even with hundreds of its followers outside the White House."
NBC News' Andrea Mitchell falsely suggested that the United States, unlike China, does not import oil from Venezuela and Nigeria. However, according the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States imports significant quantities of oil from Venezuela and Nigeria. In fact, in January 2006, Venezuela was the second-largest source of imported oil to the United States, after Canada.
On April 17, numerous news outlets -- including NBC, CBS, NPR, and Fox News -- covering former Illinois governor George Ryan's conviction on corruption charges failed to mention that he is a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan's Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."
Since March 23, each of the three major network nightly newscasts have uncritically reported administration statements expressing outrage over the prosecution and possible execution of an Afghan man for converting to Christianity, in defiance of Islamic law. But none of the nightly newscasts noted that when the Afghan constitution was ratified in 2004, President Bush hailed it for "lay[ing] the foundation for democratic institutions," despite a provision in the constitution asserting the supremacy of Islamic law.
NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell uncritically reported President Bush's misleading response to an audience question at the City Club of Cleveland on March 20 where Bush was giving a speech. O'Donnell aired Bush's statement -- "I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America" -- but failed to note that Bush was answering a question he had not been asked. The audience member to whom Bush was responding never accused Bush of "say[ing] that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America."
NBC News correspondent David Gregory uncritically reported a claim by "Republican leaders" that the "president's strengths, like tax cuts or tough anti-terror measures, have been overlooked" because of Americans' concern over the war in Iraq. Gregory ignored the most recent polling on the subject -- a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll -- which found that 43 percent of Americans trust Democrats to do "a better job of handling taxes" than the president. In that poll, only 34 percent said the president would do a better job. And regarding "tough anti-terror" measures, polls indicate that American approval of the president on terrorism is decidedly more mixed than Gregory's statement suggested.
In covering the straw poll of Republican presidential hopefuls at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Chris Matthews characterized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as a "maverick," "kind of a party renegade," and a "lone gun," despite McCain's request that conference attendees cast write-in votes in support of President Bush.
NBC's Nightly News and Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume uncritically reported the new White House explanation for President Bush's claim that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." The administration now claims that Bush was warned only of the levees "overtopping," not breaching. However, some key facts undermine this White House explanation.
NBC's David Gregory reported that the Bush administration "extracted extra security concessions from Dubai Ports World [DPW] as a condition for the $7 billion contract" through which the company would assume control of six major U.S. seaports. Gregory did not mention that these "extra security concessions" appear to be little more than pledges to comply with U.S. law, nor did he report that the administration exempted DPW from other obligations typically required by the United States.