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.
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.
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."
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.
Most major news outlets did not report the dispute over Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter's refusal to swear in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the committee's hearing on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program.