Both the AP and Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume reported on a White House event in which U.S. attorneys appeared and spoke in favor of President Bush's efforts to renew controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act. However, both media outlets omitted the fact that all of the U.S. attorneys participating are Bush appointees.
The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration "repeatedly consulted" Congress about its domestic spying program, even though members of Congress from both parties say they were not fully informed about the program, let alone consulted about it.
Fox News' Stuart Varney said that The New York Times "will do anything to undermine President Bush politically, including undermining the security of the country," and then referred to an unscientific poll to suggest that 96 percent of Americans want warrantless wiretapping.
A Newsweek article asserted that the reaction to the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program was "predictably partisan," even though numerous Republican elected officials, conservative commentators, and newspapers that endorsed President Bush's re-election in 2004 also criticized the program.
An article in the January 9 edition of Time magazine by Karen Tumulty and Mike Allen misrepresented remarks by Rep. Jane Harman by falsely claiming that she had defended President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program. In fact, in her statement, Harman said that the surveillance program "goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
On The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that President Bush "kept all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees up to speed" on his program of domestic, warrantless electronic surveillance. But Republican and Democratic members of Congress have contradicted this assertion.
Conservative media figures have defended the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program by citing a Rasmussen poll saying 64 percent of Americans believe "the National Security Agency [should] be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States." But the key issue, which the poll misrepresents, is not whether surveillance of terrorism suspects should take place at all -- something about which there is little controversy -- but whether President Bush violated the law by approving warrantless searches of domestic phone and email communications.
Media Matters presents the top 12 myths and falsehoods promoted by the media on President Bush's spying scandal stemming from the recent revelation in The New York Times that he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on domestic communications without the required approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.
An Associated Press article on the temporary five-week extension of the USA Patriot Act failed to note that the White House had indicated that President Bush supported only a permanent extension of the act and would not sign "any short-term renewal."
CBS News national correspondent Thalia Assuras misrepresented a quote from Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), falsely reporting that Harman expressed "support" for President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program. Media Matters for America has pointed out that Harman also said she is "deeply concerned by reports that this program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
A December 23 New York Times article by Douglas Jehl on the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program misleadingly suggested that few Democratic congressional leaders objected to the program. Of the seven Democratic lawmakers known to have been briefed about the program, three objected at the time and three more say they weren't given adequate information about it.
Fox News' Jim Angle misrepresented comments by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) to suggest that she was satisfied with the Bush administration's briefing of Congress on the use of domestic surveillance when, in fact, she has explicitly said that the surveillance program "goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
Calling in to CNN, Republican attorney Victoria Toensing repeated the false claim that President Clinton carried out the same authority President Bush did with regard to domestic surveillance.
In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, John Schmidt, former associate attorney general under President Clinton, argued that President Bush's decision to authorize warrantless domestic surveillance "is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents." However, Schmidt falsely claimed that Jamie Gorelick, as deputy attorney general under Clinton, testified that the president has the authority to "go beyond" the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Schmidt also offered a number of empty and irrelevant arguments in defense of Bush.
Ann Coulter stated in her December 21 column that "I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo."