In response to the reports describing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity, President Bush and other White House officials lashed out at the media -- and The New York Times in particular -- for purportedly undermining the government's antiterrorism efforts. But as with the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance and domestic call-tracking programs, the administration and its supporters in the media have relied on numerous false and misleading claims to support their arguments.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "most Americans have no tolerance for what they call amnesty" in the Senate immigration bill, and Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich called the bill "absurd" because "it will be very unpopular." But recent polling almost universally shows that Americans support a path to citizenship -- provided for in the Senate bill -- for some illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
In their coverage of the postponement of congressional negotiations on immigration reform, several major print media outlets failed to note that legislation passed by House Republicans would designate as felons the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States.
After previously referring to Rep. Cynthia McKinney as "a welfare drag queen," calling her a "ghetto slut," and claiming that a recent haircut made her "look like ghetto trash," Neal Boortz stated, on June 20, that "some time over the next couple of weeks, [Rep.] Cynthia McKinney [D-GA] will show her ass again."
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace and Fox News' Brit Hume criticized Democrats because a domestic policy platform unveiled by the congressional Democratic leadership contained "not a single word about the war in Iraq." While the platform focused only on domestic issues, it followed a proposed national security strategy released earlier this year that did address Iraq, which neither Wallace nor Hume cited. Later, during a discussion on ethics, Hume, Wallace, and other Fox News Sunday panelists failed to note the broadening investigation into the ethics of House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Wallace also gushed over White House press secretary and former Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow.
Interviewing author Ron Suskind, whose new book found the Department of Homeland Security to be "nonexistent" and "basically a joke," NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer asked Suskind if he risks "emboldening our enemies" by "talking about some of the weaknesses in policy and procedure" in the U.S.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, CBS News contributor Gloria Borger acknowledged that the media "are suckers" because of their coverage of President Bush's surprise June 13 trip to Iraq. Borger concluded: "[Y]ou know you're being used, but in a way you kind of like it because it's good pictures."
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On Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas stated that White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Tony Snow "looked a lot better in those metal helmets than [former Democratic presidential candidate] Michael Dukakis did in that tank some years ago."
On NBC's Today, Michael Smerconish selectively cited the stock market's performance and cherry-picked favorable data from a New York Times op-ed to claim that President Bush was making a "comeback." In fact, the Dow Jones industrial average has headed downward dramatically in recent weeks before experiencing a partial recovery in recent days, and other data cited in the Times op-ed led its authors to conclude that "it is increasingly hard to describe Iraq as a glass half-full."
Following the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the news that Karl Rove would not be indicted in the CIA leak case, and other events, media figures have declared that the Bush administration is experiencing "a surge of momentum." But such assertions ignore the White House's numerous current problems.
In a weblog post, ABC News' Jake Tapper again misstated pledges by President Bush and his aides to fire anyone who disclosed the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Tapper's post included a thinly veiled -- and false -- attack on Media Matters for America.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed on the June 5 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is "the worst court in the world" and "the biggest activist court in the nation's history." In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, the 9th Circuit's reversal rate is consistent with the national average.
Rush Limbaugh downplayed President Bush's low approval ratings by falsely claiming that former President Bill Clinton "was down in the 20s at one point" and suggesting that Clinton had "parallel poll results" to Bush during the equivalent point in his second term. In fact, Clinton's approval rating never dropped below 36 percent, and remained above 58 percent in the Gallup poll throughout 1998, the equivalent year in his presidency to 2006 for Bush.
In an article based on information from the Center for Public Integrity's recent analysis of privately funded congressional travel, Washington Post staff writer Jeffrey Birnbaum largely depicted the issue of members accepting privately funded trips as a bipartisan one. But Birnbaum omitted several pertinent findings that show greater participation by Republican lawmakers and staff than by Democrats.