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."
NBC's David Gregory claimed that "no one questions whether this president has been tough on terror," and that "Democrats charge the U.S. is creating more terrorists because of Iraq." But several reports have called into question Bush's "toughness" in the war on terrorism, and contrary to Gregory's suggestion that only Democrats are claiming "the U.S. is creating more terrorists because of Iraq," that assertion is one of the "key judgments" of recently declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate.
On NBC's Today, discussing the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations over which administration has better handled the terrorism threat, Bill Bennett falsely claimed that President Clinton was the one who "brought ... up" the topic of his administration's anti-terror efforts. In fact, the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations grew out of Clinton's Fox News interview, during which host Chris Wallace first brought up the subject by asking Clinton why he did not "do more to put [Osama] bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business."
Evening newscasts on ABC and NBC uncritically aired President Bush's nonsensical non-responses to questions about declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate; NBC and CBS presented misleading reports on the NIE's conclusions, both asserting that the declassified portion of the report at least in part backs up Bush.
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
Matt Lauer failed to ask Sen. John McCain if he still trusts the White House to abide by the terms of a deal on detainee treatment, in light of President Bush's signing statement accompanying McCain's anti-torture bill in December 2005.
Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.
In separate interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Matt Lauer and Robin Roberts failed to question Rice about President Bush's contradictory statements on the search for Osama bin Laden, as well as a recent report that the administration hired individuals to rebuild Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
A Media Matters for America review of cable and broadcast networks and major newspapers showed no coverage of a September 17 front-page Washington Post report by Rajiv Chandrasekaran detailing the process by which many individuals who "lacked vital skills and experience" were assigned to positions in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
Numerous print and television outlets uncritically reported President Bush's response to a reporter's question about a letter by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which Powell argued that "[t]he world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Bush stated: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that." In fact, neither the question nor Powell's letter made any such comparison.
On NBC's Nightly News, Brian Williams claimed that "[s]cientists can't say yet whether global warming is the culprit for the recent reported ice melt in the Arctic." However, the scientist who wrote the NASA study to which Williams was presumably referring said that the new data from satellite imaging illustrating "an abrupt shrinkage" in the Arctic sea ice show "the strongest evidence of global warming in the Arctic so far."
House Majority Leader John Boehner received widespread media coverage for his remark about Democratic colleagues: "Sometimes, based on the votes that get cast, you wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of the terrorists than in protecting the American people." Sen. Mary Landrieu responded to similar criticism in the Senate with an indictment of the Republicans' counterterrorism policies. Will the media highlight Landrieu's comments as they did Boehner's?
In her Today debut, Meredith Vieira claimed that the Democrats have "argued against the Republican position for months now, but they really haven't come up with a plan of their own when it comes to victory in Iraq without withdrawing." But Vieira's assertion appeared to be based on an assumption that is now being called into question by the U.S. military -- that remaining in Iraq indefinitely constitutes a plan for "victory."