The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal all asserted that it may be difficult for congressional Democrats to deliver on their pledge to reform the Medicare drug plan over the opposition of the Bush administration, congressional Republicans, and the pharmaceutical industry, but did not report an internal drug company memo that warned of bills that would allow imported drugs and force price competition.
The White House released a series of statements, reportedly initiated by new press secretary Tony Snow, attacking specific media reports and editorials as misleading. Conservatives in the media have touted the statements as indicative of a new willingness on the part of the White House communications office, led by Snow, to call the press on its misinformation. But Media Matters for America has found that, of the six "Setting the Record Straight" releases issued from May 8 to May 11, at least four are highly misleading.
The Washington Post once again reported as fact the Bush administration's misleading claim that "29 million Americans have enrolled" in the Medicare prescription drug program. But while the Post suggested that the 29 million enrollees joined the program voluntarily, more than two-thirds were, in fact, enrolled automatically.
In reporting on President Bush's March 14 remarks on the Medicare prescription drug program, The Washington Post and the Associated Press both uncritically repeated Bush's claim that 26 million senior citizens have voluntarily enrolled in the program. In fact, the number of seniors who voluntarily enrolled is about 5 million, or one-fifth of the number touted by Bush and repeated by the Post and AP.
The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal reported on February 3 that the revised 10-year cost estimates of President Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan were less than earlier projected -- $678 billion, as opposed to $737 billion estimated in August 2005. In fact, while they were less than August 2005 projections, they were far more than the $400 billion estimate the administration provided Congress when trying to get the votes to approve the plan.
Major news outlets ignored President Bush's decision not to attend the once-a-decade White House Conference on Aging, where, according to the Palm Beach Post, he was the target of "a stinging rebuke" and where delegates refused to embrace "the Medicare drug law or Bush's call for private Social Security investment accounts." Outlets focused instead on Bush's speech at a Virginia event designed to promote the Medicare prescription drug benefit.