A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
On NBC's Meet the Press, New York Times reporter Anne E. Kornblut claimed that the Connecticut Democratic primary in August between Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and challenger Ned Lamont will be "a test of if taking a principled stand can work in a Democratic primary" -- suggesting that Lamont is not "principled" in his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. Kornblut later simply repeated a GOP smear against Democratic war critics, claiming that some Democratic senators "have made the calculation that it would be more dangerous to take ... the cut-and-run position."
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.
Despite the fact that most Americans favor the Democratic position of setting dates for the withdrawal of U.S.troops from Iraq and disapproving of the war altogether, Newsweek and Andrew Sullivan continued to present the Republican Party's "stay the course" platform for the Iraq war as a political winner.
Several news outlets missed a key point in their reporting on the Senate's defeat of two Democratic amendments calling for U.S. redeployment from Iraq: The Democrats' claim that their position reflects public opinion is backed by polling data showing that a majority of Americans support some form of withdrawal.
On the Chris Matthews Show, Elisabeth Bumiller noted that President Bush had ordered Vice President Dick Cheney to authorize I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to leak portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on prewar intelligence. Bumiller then stated: "I'm totally in favor of leaking of any kind." But Bumiller neglected to mention that Libby testified that he had been authorized to leak false information to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence.
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.
Loading the player leg...
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.