Over the past year, CNN hosts, anchors, and reporters have repeatedly commented on the Democratic Party's purported lack of a clear plan or concrete set of alternatives on issues ranging from Social Security to the war in Iraq. When a large coalition of Democrats stood together on March 29 to unveil a unified national security platform, CNN largely ignored the news.
In a column that referred to the contents of a recently disclosed memorandum about a meeting between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair six weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Richard Cohen wrote that "nothing so far proved that Bush knew he was making a false case" on Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction. But despite Cohen's description of Bush as "determined to make war almost no matter what," Cohen overlooked a different "false case" made by Bush: The memo indicates that all of Bush's statements suggesting that every effort was being made to avoid war with Iraq were apparently false.
A New York Times article about congressional Democrats' newly released national security agenda reported that "[m]ost of the proposals are not new," and included a response from Republican Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, who was quoted as saying: "It's taken them all this time to figure out what we've been doing for a long time." The article made no mention that congressional Republicans -- including Bond -- have blocked the Democrats' "not new" security proposals for years.
In his March 27 column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz asked, "Have the media declared war on the war [in Iraq]?" -- apparently ignoring the response CBS News' Lara Logan gave to a similar question he asked on the March 26 edition of his CNN program, Reliable Sources. In a detailed response, Logan flatly rebutted accusations repeated by Kurtz that the media have overemphasized the violence in Iraq.
A New York Post editorial and Fox News host John Gibson both claimed that documents recovered from Iraq -- recently released by the Bush administration and summarized by ABC News -- prove that the administration correctly asserted in its buildup to the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein was working with Al Qaeda. In fact, as ABC pointed out, the documents that both the Post and Gibson cited are not definitive in any way and are of varying credibility.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Republican strategist Mary Matalin's assertion that "[w]e have taken out the Al Qaeda network. We've decimated it." Matalin's claim was misleading at best; in fact, news reports indicate that the Al Qaeda network has continued to operate.
Since a March 27 New York Times article confirmed that a leaked British memo appears to contradict President Bush's repeated claim prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that he wanted to avoid war, media have failed to note the full significance of the document and in some cases ignored the story altogether.
On Good Morning America, correspondent Dan Harris reported that "[t]he latest national poll says 31 percent of Americans believe the media make things in Iraq sound worse than they are." But Harris failed to inform viewers that in the same poll he cited, a majority of Americans -- 59 percent -- said that the media describe "things in Iraq" either "accurately" or "better than they are."
On Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas called an upcoming film about anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan "a liberal porno film." Thomas then claimed that Sheehan has "manipulated" the death of her son in the Iraq war "for her own political ends. Her son was a volunteer."
During a roundtable discussion on NBC's Meet the Press, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller uncritically repeated Bush administration assertions that the administration was not attempting to blame the media for negative public opinion about the Iraq war. In fact, administration officials have repeatedly suggested that the media have painted a distorted and disproportionately negative picture of Iraq.
Chris Matthews falsely suggested that a proposal by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq "got what, 18 votes?" In fact, Murtha's proposal -- to require the president to withdraw American troops from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date" -- has not been put to a vote in the House of Representatives.
Since March 23, each of the three major network nightly newscasts have uncritically reported administration statements expressing outrage over the prosecution and possible execution of an Afghan man for converting to Christianity, in defiance of Islamic law. But none of the nightly newscasts noted that when the Afghan constitution was ratified in 2004, President Bush hailed it for "lay[ing] the foundation for democratic institutions," despite a provision in the constitution asserting the supremacy of Islamic law.
After the contentious exchange between Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas and President Bush during Bush's March 21 press conference, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and several other conservative commentators rushed to attack Thomas. O'Reilly accused her of "hat[ing] Bush and try[ing] to undermine everything he does," and even suggesting that if he were Bush, he "would have laid her out." Several other conservative media figures -- including Jonah Goldberg, Fred Barnes, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson -- have followed suit, sometimes with highly personal attacks.
Rush Limbaugh blasted three members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who were kidnapped and held hostage in Iraq but rescued this week, stating that "these self-absorbed, self-inflated, self-important people have made this all about them." The three activists, along with a fourth colleague who was killed prior to the rescue, had been held hostage in Iraq since they were kidnapped in November 2005.
Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg professed to be "baffle[d]" that "the only argument" that opponents of the Iraq war claim that President Bush made in justifying the March 2003 invasion of Iraq is that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and planned to use them against the United States. In fact, it was Bush himself who stressed in the weeks leading up to the invasion that disarming and removing Saddam were necessary because of the threat that he would use WMD against the United States.