On MSNBC News Live, beyond pointing out that “there are a lot of deaths every day,” Norah O'Donnell did not challenge Laura Bush when she claimed that the media have failed to cover “a lot of good things that are happening” in Iraq or when she accused the media of lacking a “balanced view” of Iraq in emphasizing reports of violence. Instead, O'Donnell prompted her to point out “some of those good things that people should know about.”
On the December 14 edition of MSNBC News Live, rather than challenging first lady Laura Bush's assertion that the media have failed to cover “a lot of good things that are happening” in Iraq, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell prompted Laura Bush to elaborate on “some of those good things that people should know about.” Beyond pointing out that “there are a lot of deaths every day,” O'Donnell did not dispute Bush's assertion. In response, the first lady asserted that the media, for example, have not covered the “schools that are being built.” At no point did O'Donnell point out that President Bush himself acknowledged, during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on December 7, that the United States needs a “new approach” because "[i]t's bad in Iraq." Further, in its final report, the Iraq Study Group found that "[t]he Iraqi government is not effectively providing its people with basic services: electricity, drinking water, sewage, health care, and education."
O'Donnell also allowed Laura Bush to accuse the media, as the website Think Progress noted, of lacking a “balanced view” of Iraq in emphasizing reports of violence instead of the “good things going on that people don't have the chance to see.” O'Donnell did not point out the ISG's conclusion -- not that good news is being underreported, but that the administration is significantly “underreporting ... the violence in Iraq.” O'Donnell's failure to challenge Laura Bush's accusation of the media was also noted by AMERICAblog.com.
Media Matters for America previously noted that on the May 14 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace did not rebut a claim by Laura Bush that, when President Bush's approval ratings were “really high, they weren't on the front page” of major newspapers. Similarly, during an interview with Laura Bush on the May 14 broadcast of ABC News' This Week, host George Stephanopoulos also did not correct the first lady when she repeated her claim that, “when poll numbers were good,” the press did not put them “on the front page.” Neither the Associated Press nor Reuters, both of which reported Laura Bush's claim, noted that it was false.
From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the December 14 edition of MSNBC News Live:
O'DONNELL: I know you read the newspapers. You know some of the discussion out there is that the president is going to dismiss the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and not take the fruit salad, as James Baker has called it, and pick and choose.
BUSH: Well, I don't know what that is but I'm sure that he will pick and choose because that -- it's important for him to do that, to pick the ones that are most effective, that the generals think are most effective, and he'll do that.
O'DONNELL: Let me ask you then, finally, just about public opinion when it comes to the Iraq war. NBC News -- we have a new poll out we sponsor with The Wall Street Journal, and the numbers showed two out of 10 Americans now approve of the president's handling on Iraq; seven out of 10 -- less confident that the war will be successful.
BUSH: Well, I, you know, I understand why those polls are like that, because of the coverage that we see every single day in Iraq, and it is not encouraging coverage, for instance -- for sure. There's no doubt about it. But I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren't covered. And I think the drumbeat in the country from the media, from the only way people know what's happening unless they happen to have a loved one deployed there, is discouraging and you know -- I know that the facts are not as discouraging.
O'DONNELL: But there are a lot of deaths every day.
BUSH: Absolutely, there are, and people do know that and see that, but there are also good things going on that people don't have the chance to see.
O'DONNELL: What are some of those good things that people should know about?
BUSH: Schools that are being built; parts of the country that are peaceful; and people are trying to rebuild their lives in a large part of Iraq. And we hear that, we hear that from friends, we hear that from Iraqis, we hear it from our troops who are there, and -- so, I'd like to see the media get a little bit more balanced view of it.
O'DONNELL: And we do know that our men and women over there do want support over there and we do --
BUSH: Sure, absolutely. And I know the American people support our troops, and that's what I hope our troops also see when they see the coverage of it, the way the American people support them. And I know they'll see it over the holidays, because many, many Americans will be reaching out to our deployed troops in a lot of different ways: by sending Christmas presents, by sending Christmas cards, by letting our troops know that we are with them. And I hope our troops get that message over the holidays.