Following President Bush's nomination of Henry M. Paulson Jr. to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow, major newspapers largely ignored a deceptive -- at best -- answer Bush gave last week about whether Snow would be leaving the administration. When asked during a May 25 press conference whether Snow "had given [Bush] any indication that he intends to leave his job any time soon," Bush responded: "No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job." Yet press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that Bush had already selected John Snow's replacement by May 21.
In reporting on a newly released ABC News/Washington Post poll on the favorability of presumptive 2008 presidential nominees Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. John McCain, the Post and ABC's Good Morning America focused almost entirely on numbers that indicate Clinton is "polarizing" and on the percentage of respondents who "would definitely not vote for" her in 2008. In its article, the Post also included an assertion about how people view Clinton that was contradicted by the poll results.
In articles on the House's passage of a bill that would allow oil exploration in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Associated Press overstated the amount of oil that could be produced if the bill becomes law.
In a column titled "The Shadow of a Marriage," The Washington Post's David Broder discussed press interest in the personal lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton, asserting that, should she run for president, the Clintons' marriage will be a "hot topic" and stating that a recent New York Times article on the same topic was "anything but unsympathetic" to the Clintons. But Broder's interest in the intimate details of the Clintons' personal relationship is inconsistent with his own previous writing, in which he has argued that journalists focus too much on candidates' personal lives and that, as a result, the "public is choking on a surfeit of smut."
Media outlets have continued to ignore President Bush's previous praise of a controversial immigration bill that passed the House of Representatives in December and his reported advocacy of some of its most controversial provisions. These media have instead uncritically reported Bush's opposition to the House bill.
The Washington Post reported on House Republicans' passage of a $2.8 trillion budget proposal, the GOP divide over the spending plan, and an alternative budget blueprint put forward by moderate Republicans. But the Post ignored entirely an alternative budget proposed by House Democrats, which would have restored GOP-proposed cuts to social services and reinstated the pay-as-you-go rule that Republicans let expire in 2002.
The Washington Post reported Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's defense of the Justice Department's decision to terminate an inquiry into whether department lawyers acted properly in authorizing the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic surveillance program without providing any indication of the nature or degree of criticism greeting that decision.
Washington Post writers Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza asserted that the results of primary elections held in Oregon and Pennsylvania, which saw several Pennsylvania Republican state legislators ousted, "were the latest signals of brewing unrest that could threaten incumbents of both parties in the November elections." However, of the results reported in the article, the only one involving a Democrat was the primary victory of incumbent Oregon state Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Following President Bush's announcement of his proposal to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the administration's plan to bolster border protection in numerous media appearances and interviews. But in their coverage, media generally failed to mention that in December 2005, Chertoff characterized the deployment of the National Guard for border protection as "a horribly overexpensive and very difficult way to manage this problem."
A Washington Post editorial claimed that President Bush "responded weakly" when the House of Representatives passed its "draconian" immigration reform bill in December 2005, potentially costing him the "political strength now to resist it." The editorial suggested that Bush did not stand up to the House over the bill, which would institute criminal penalties for aiding illegal immigrants and mandate the construction of a fence along much of the Mexican border. But far from refusing to denounce the House's "draconian" bill, Bush in fact "applaud[ed] the House for passing a strong immigration bill."
A Washington Post/ABC News poll on the National Security Agency program to collect phone call records of tens of millions of United States residents found that 63 percent of respondents found the program acceptable. The poll question claimed that the NSA is not "listening to or recording the conversations" captured by the data collection program, but a Post article reported that the program is related to NSA's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.
In reporting and editorializing on the Senate Judiciary Committee's May 9 hearings to consider President Bush's nomination of White House staff secretary Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, The Washington Post and The Washington Times each offered incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading portrayals of Kavanaugh's nomination and of Kavanaugh himself.
A Washington Post article on the ethics-reform bill passed by the House of Representatives buried a crucial fact: The bill had provoked widespread criticism from Democrats and government watchdog groups. In addition, the article noted that eight Democrats crossed party lines and voted for the bill, but did not similarly note that more than twice as many Republicans crossed party lines to vote against it. Other major print outlets similarly omitted crucial context regarding the House bill.
In a column titled "So Not Funny," Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen declared that comedian Stephen Colbert's scathing routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner was "rude" and "insulting," and added that Colbert was "a bully." However, Cohen offered no criticism of Bush when, in a pre-taped skit at the 60th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association (RTCA) in 2004, he made light of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Washington Post staff writers Jim VandeHei and Michael A. Fletcher quoted several White House aides who characterized the appointment of Tony Snow as press secretary as "proof that he [Bush] is open to dissenting opinions," recognition on the part of the president that "he needs to do a better job communicating," and an effort to "wipe the slate clean." But despite the chorus of criticism from Democrats and others in response to Bush's choice, VandeHei and Fletcher presented no contrasting opinions.