A New York Post editorial falsely claimed that a 1996 "law" "permits the opening of mail without a warrant" and that a recent signing statement from President Bush merely echoed "the executive branch's authority created from the earlier law." In fact, the "law" is a postal regulation that allows mail to be opened when it is suspected to be an "immediate danger to life or limb or ... property." Bush's signing statement claimed that executive-branch officials may open mail without a warrant "in exigent circumstances," without specifically defining them.
CNN correspondent Brian Todd warned that "an onslaught of subpoenas" from congressional Democrats could be seen as "payback" by voters. However, polling indicates that a majority of the public favors oversight of certain aspects of the Bush administration.
While NBC has aired a segment on President Bush's "signing statement" on a postal reform bill that "quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant," ABC, CBS, and CNN have largely ignored the story, and ABC reported that Bush "acquired new powers" and suggested that they were "included" the bill.
On The Big Story, Fox News' Megyn Kendall reported that, during a speech, Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, even though, she later claimed, he "doesn't know that much about" it. She later falsely suggested that "those who have been briefed on the program don't see any problem" with it. In fact, several members of the House and Senate committees have criticized the program.
In response to a question from Wolf Blitzer about why people have been wrongfully detained by the U.S. government, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed he didn't "know the specific cases" Blitzer was "referring to." Blitzer did not challenge Gonzales or point out any of several such detainments documented by human-rights groups and foreign governments.
In reporting on the Justice Department's probe into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, the Associated Press left out the fact that President Bush had effectively shut down a previous probe -- by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility -- by denying investigators the necessary security clearances.
In their coverage of Saddam Hussein's November 5 guilty verdict, several print news outlets reported U.S. officials' assertions that the announcement had not been timed to coincide with the midterm elections but ignored reporting that conflicts with these denials -- in particular, the fact that the full verdict in Saddam's trial is not set to be released until November 9.
Fox News' Steve Harrigan underwent what he described as three "phase[s]" of the controversial interrogation technique known as "waterboarding," on camera, concluding that the technique is "a pretty efficient mechanism to get someone to talk and then still have them alive and healthy within minutes." Psychologists have asserted that "such forms of near-asphyxiation" can lead to long-term psychological damage.
Additional portions of the interview of Dick Cheney showed ABC News' George Stephanopoulos letting Cheney repeat the administration's self-serving and dubious assertions on Democratic tax plans, Iraq, and the economy, including the oft-repeated Republican talking point that if Rep. Charlie Rangel were to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, "you would see a major tax increase."
During Tony Snow's recent series of appearances on cable news channels, interviewers on CNN and Fox News left unchallenged a number of false, misleading, and baseless Republican talking points on a variety of issues. After allowing Snow to misrepresent the Democratic position on the surveillance and detention of suspected terrorists, CNN host Wolf Blitzer told Snow that he is "a straight shooter."