Advancing a line put forth by the administration, several conservative media figures have argued that the revelation of President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program has effectively rendered it worthless because its existence and practices have been disclosed to terrorist groups. However, Media Matters for America has previously noted the absurdity of this claim.
Bill O'Reilly said that the "5 to 7 percent" of San Francisco police officers alleged to have used excessive force do not constitute "a lot" of officers, adding, "I'm not sure what the big deal is out of that."
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A Media Matters review found that, following the revelation of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, recent television news coverage has quoted or replayed President Bush's 2004 denial of such a program far less than President Clinton's denial of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky during a comparable period in 1998 following his acknowledgment of such a relationship.
In a report on hunting and politics, CNN's Bruce Morton commented that President Bush "likes to hunt quail with family and friends" and Vice President Dick Cheney "loves to hunt," but -- using language that echoed that of Cheney during the 2004 campaign -- said Sen. John Kerry "spent time posing with guns" during the 2004 presidential campaign, and that "voters probably saw more of him pursuing exotic sports, windsurfing and so on."
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank falsely suggested that former Rep. Bob Barr was the lone conservative critic of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic spying program to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Focusing largely on the negative reaction of CPAC attendees to Barr's criticism of the program, Milbank called Barr "the skunk at CPAC's party this year," while failing to report that David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsored CPAC, and another prominent conservative who spoke at the convention, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, have also criticized the warrantless surveillance program.
On the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN's Dana Bash uncritically reported the White House's claim that Katharine Armstrong, the host of Vice President Dick Cheney's February 11 hunting party, went to the press to report Cheney's shooting accident only after conferring with Cheney, a claim that directly contradicted what CNN's Suzanne Malveaux had reported earlier. But Bash failed to note the contradiction, which Malveaux had highlighted in a question to White House press secretary Scott McClellan earlier in the day.
On ABC's This Week, Washington Post columnist George F. Will called President Bush's controversial warrantless domestic spying program "a winner politically" because "[t]here's no question the country says, 'You're listening in? We don't care.' " However, polling shows that, depending on the wording of the poll question, a strong minority of the public or even a majority opposes the program.
During Fox News' coverage of a February 13 White House press conference in which press secretary Scott McClellan was repeatedly asked about the administration's initial failure to inform the public of the incident in which Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot one of his hunting partners, Fox News political analyst Bill Sammon called the issue "a little bit of a tempest in a teapot."
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In his February 10 column, The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger baselessly asserted that the public disclosure of President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program had made it ineffective. However, news reports suggest that, even before the program's public disclosure, it had been ineffective.
A Washington Post article about the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program falsely claimed that the program's critics are "some Democrats." In fact, many Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, also disagree with the administration's legal justifications for the program.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews and The Washington Post's Dana Milbank agreed that the American public is rallying to support President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, and that only Democrats and "poor Republicans like [former Rep.] Bob Barr [R-GA]" are raising objections based on the legality of the program.
Fox News host John Gibson suggested a link between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and the foiling of an Al Qaeda plot, first described by President Bush in a February 9 speech, to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Bush, however, did not mention the controversial surveillance program in his speech, and the White House refused to say if the domestic surveillance program was involved in foiling the terrorist plot.
Arguing that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is unconstitutional and should be abolished, a February 9 Wall Street Journal editorial used a variety of false and misleading statements to attack FISA and again defend the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program.
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed, "[Sen.] Pat Leahy opposes NSA [National Security Agency] intercepts of the enemy," referring to the NSA's warrantless surveillance program secretly authorized by President Bush in 2001. In fact, according to his statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6, Leahy "agree[d] that we should be wiretapping Al Qaeda terrorists."