Contrary to Karl Rove's pre-election assertions -- which the media accorded significance despited his presumable responsibility to express optimism -- Democrats won control of both houses of Congress. This raises the question of whether the media were wrong in treating Rove's optimistic predictions as anything more than a job requirement.
PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer reported without challenge or rebuttal that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove "dismissed Democrats' chances of winning control of Congress." MSNBC's David Shuster similarly reported without challenge that Rove "remain[s] very calm and optimistic about the election." But as CNN's Wolf Blitzer noted, Rove "ha[s] to say that."
PBS' NewsHour host Jim Lehrer allowed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to mischaracterize a letter to Congress by five top uniformed military lawyers. Frist suggested that the letter supports the Bush administration's proposed legislation regarding the interrogation and trial of terrorism suspects. However, Lehrer did not mention that the letter addresses only certain provisions of Bush's plan, not the entire bill, and that the military lawyers reportedly refused to sign a letter endorsing Bush's entire bill. Lehrer also allowed Frist to misrepresent comments Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made in a NewsHour interview the previous night.
Stephen Moore asserted that "a lot of the new [tax] revenue is coming from rich people," and then asked rhetorically, "if [Bush's tax cut] was a big tax cut for the rich, why are the rich paying more taxes than ever?" In fact, filers earning at least $200,000 paid less federal income tax in 2004 on average than they did in 2002.
On PBS' Washington Week, host Gwen Ifill suggested that a political "caffeine gap" could "hold the key to the next election," suggesting that the preponderance of coffee shops in "Red State" Arizona "explains John McCain."
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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.
In a segment on Al Gore's global warming campaign, PBS' Gwen Ifill noted that "critics have called Gore 'alarmist,' " before airing a clip of an ad produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which she identified only as a "Washington think tank." But Ifill did not mention that CEI is a conservative institution largely funded by the energy industry, which has a financial stake in opposing policies that seek to combat climate change.
New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed that Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff visited the White House only "twice, in 2001 and 2004," citing recently released Secret Service visitor logs. But as Media Matters for America previously noted, the White House has acknowledged several Abramoff visits not mentioned in the logs, and the White House and the Secret Service have both admitted that the records released "would not present a complete picture of Abramoff's" visits.
On PBS' The NewsHour, host Jim Lehrer failed to challenge Rep. Heather Wilson's (R-NM) misleading assertions regarding the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program and CIA director nominee Gen. Michael V. Hayden, an architect of the program and one of the administration's point people in defending it.
On PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that "in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent."
New York Times staff writers David Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller used the opportunity presented by President Bush's March 3 visit to Pakistan to contrast Bush's "more public landing" on Air Force One with Clinton's 2000 visit, in which, Bumiller wrote, he "slipped into Islamabad for six hours on an unmarked military jet." However, both Sanger and Bumiller ignored the historical and political context of Clinton's trip to Pakistan and the security measures taken by Bush that undermine any notion that he "arrived with a roar on Air Force One."
Several journalists and media figures have taken to describing Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's approval of a deal allowing state-owned Dubai Ports World to assume control of six major U.S. ports as an attempt by Democrats to move "to the right" of President Bush and Republicans in Congress on issues of national security. In fact, some of the Democrats who have most strongly denounced the deal have been among the most active proponents of enhancing port security since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
On the February 22 edition of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, David Brooks claimed that "a week ago," Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Jon Corzine did not "kn[ow] a thing" or "care" about port security. Similarly, on the same day, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had only recently emphasized port security. In fact, Schumer, Corzine, and Clinton have all sponsored or co-sponsored port security legislation and have also frequently spoken out on the subject.
During an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney on PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, anchor Jim Lehrer missed numerous opportunities to challenge assertions Cheney made in defense of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program.