On June 18, The Washington Post published a cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq that detailed the deteriorating conditions observed in Baghdad in recent months. Despite the clear significance of the document, the media have almost entirely ignored its publication.
Interviewing author Ron Suskind, whose new book found the Department of Homeland Security to be "nonexistent" and "basically a joke," NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer asked Suskind if he risks "emboldening our enemies" by "talking about some of the weaknesses in policy and procedure" in the U.S.
On NBC's Today, Michael Smerconish selectively cited the stock market's performance and cherry-picked favorable data from a New York Times op-ed to claim that President Bush was making a "comeback." In fact, the Dow Jones industrial average has headed downward dramatically in recent weeks before experiencing a partial recovery in recent days, and other data cited in the Times op-ed led its authors to conclude that "it is increasingly hard to describe Iraq as a glass half-full."
For the third time in a week, NBC provided a forum for Ann Coulter's hateful rhetoric and continued to milk the controversy that surrounds her. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Coulter again discussed her attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims. Media Matters for America asks what other NBC show will try to capitalize on the ratings boost the network clearly thinks Coulter brings.
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On NBC's Today, White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell uncritically reported President Bush's statement that progress in Iraq can be measured "in megawatts of electricity delivered" and "in terms of oil sold on the market on behalf of the Iraqi people." O'Donnell failed to note that most of the country has electricity for less than half the day and that oil output has remained below prewar levels since the U.S.-led invasion.
Broadcast networks covering the news that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald reportedly told White House senior adviser Karl Rove that he does not anticipate charging Rove in connection with the CIA leak investigation left out key information concerning Rove's conduct and the false and misleading information put out by the White House concerning the matter. Rove's history of falsely claiming that he was not involved in disclosing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was ignored or downplayed, as was the White House's false denials of Rove's role.
During his interview with Bill O'Reilly, NBC Today host Matt Lauer joined O'Reilly in serving up conservative misinformation to Today viewers. In questions he posed to O'Reilly, Lauer suggested that Democrats would play a "dangerous" "troop withdrawal game" in Iraq, and that if detainees were released from the U.S. prison facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay and went on to commit terrorist acts, "we've got an international Willie Horton on our hands."
On The Chris Matthews Show, Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman said he doesn't see "a serious answer from the Democrats of how to better make us safe in the world from terrorism," while Bloomberg reporter Janine Zacharia added that "[t]he Democrats have no alternative." In fact, the Democrats have released a comprehensive security plan.
On Meet the Press, Tim Russert noted that National Review White House correspondent Byron York is "a conservative writer," but then added that York is "an interesting, objective observer of American politics," without elaborating on the term "objective." Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of conservative misinformation from York.
Introducing an NBC Nightly News report on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's appearance on Today, Brian Williams said that controversial comments Coulter made about the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred."
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For the third time in eight months, NBC's Today hosted an appearance by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, this time providing a forum for her to promote her latest book, Godless:The Church of Liberalism. Host Matt Lauer read some of the more controversial statements in Coulter's book, including her claim that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths" as much as the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert, during an interview with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), asked Biden if same-sex marriage was one of the issues "that the Republicans used successfully to demonstrate that the Democrats were out of sync on cultural -- and values." But leading up to the 2004 election, polls found that the public was split equally on which party better represented their values, and more recent polling indicates that more people think Democrats better represent their values than do Republicans.
Despite previously saying that he was "surprised" at The New York Times' news judgment and "stunned by the language" the newspaper used in its article on the state of the Clintons' marriage, Chris Matthews stated: "I wish I could send it [the article] to everybody," and, "We ought to have it linked here," apparently referring to MSNBC's website. Matthews has asked at least 90 questions about the Clintons' marriage on the two programs he hosts since the Times published the article.
Despite the clear risks undertaken by journalists covering the Iraq war, some conservatives in the media have repeatedly questioned the courage of journalists in Iraq, alleging that journalists covering the war fail to report "good news" because they are afraid to leave the heavily fortified Baghdad "Green Zone" to speak with Iraqis and coalition troops elsewhere in the country. Additionally, some conservatives have claimed that journalists' coverage of the Iraq war is distorted by their alleged hostility to President Bush and the war.
On NBC's Today, Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish falsely claimed that "no one died at Abu Ghraib" -- a detention facility operated by U.S. forces in Iraq -- and that the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib was merely "a lot of ridiculous actions ... carried out by nine knuckleheads." Additionally, in a report that aired repeatedly on CNN, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre falsely reported that "[n]one of the abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib died." In fact, detainee Manadel al-Jamadi reportedly died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation by CIA personnel on November 4, 2003. The Pentagon has labeled al-Jamadi's death a "homicide," indicating that it resulted from the treatment he received at the prison -- not from natural causes.