During a profile of "scary smart," " 'girly' and fun" Condoleezza Rice, broadcast on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric let Rice make, without challenge, a series of false and misleading statements about the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and its use of prewar intelligence, as well as the war's effect on global instability. Couric tossed Rice softball questions, such as, "Is it hard for you to have a social life?" "[H]ow does one go about asking the secretary of state out on a date?"
At a White House press conference, President Bush described Americans who think the Iraq war has made the country less safe as "naïve" and rebutted claims that the conflict has contributed to the growing terrorist threat by repeating his illogical argument that "[w]e weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th." But reporters failed to challenge his non-responsive remarks, and several print outlets uncritically reported them shortly thereafter.
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CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend's claims that "there's no question that terrorism was a priority" in the Bush administration before 9-11 and that the Bush administration was unaware of the "comprehensive strategy to proceed with the war on terror" former President Clinton said he left with the incoming administration, despite the fact that the 9-11 Commission offered claims to the contrary.
CNN and the Associated Press reported without challenge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's misleading response to former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to September 11, 2001.
ABC's Diane Sawyer let Bill O'Reilly misleadingly defend President Bush's efforts to pursue Osama bin Laden and to put forward without challenge the dubious claim that the so-called "traditionalist" cause O'Reilly champions in his book is "not a religious movement." Sawyer also failed to challenge O'Reilly on the numerous falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations in his new book.
In the Fox News premiere of her new show, The Live Desk, host Martha MacCallum advanced several falsehoods regarding the respective anti-terrorism efforts of Presidents Clinton and Bush, while discussing Chris Wallace's recent interview with Clinton. MacCallum falsely claimed that Richard Clarke was demoted by the Bush administration after 9-11 and that the Clinton administration abandoned opportunities to take out Osama bin Laden, despite having him "in their scope."
In discussing former President Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Howard Kurtz wrote in his column that Clinton gave an "impassioned, finger-wagging answer" to Wallace's question about why he failed to "do more ... and put [Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda] out of business." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz asserted, "[I]t would seem that ... the former president just went overboard." But in neither instance did Kurtz indicate that Clinton gave a substantive defense of his administration's anti-terror efforts in response.
Washington Post staff writer Peter Baker wrote that while President Bush's "public persona gives little sense that he dwells on the costs of war ... the private Bush comes across differently in the accounts of aides, friends, relatives and military family members who have met with him." However, Baker did not mention instances in which Bush has publicly made dismissive comments about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson asserted that "there are plenty of aspects of the media that have blamed President Bush every step of the way for every misstep," but gave no examples to support her claim. She then falsely suggested that the press was not to blame for its treatment of Bush on Iraq, since everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But she made no mention of mounting evidence that the Bush administration had reason to know that its claims about Saddam Hussein were false.
During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."
CNN's Kelly Arena uncritically reported U.S. government officials' claim that the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah and terrorism suspect Ramzi bin al-Shibh led to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Arena failed to note evidence indicating that the interrogation of Zubaydah and bin al-Shibh had little to no impact on Mohammed's capture.
The Washington Post has hired Michael Gerson -- who as President Bush's chief speechwriter from 2001-2005 crafted the false and misleading rhetoric the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- to be an op-ed columnist. The Post editorial board repeated without question some of that false and misleading rhetoric in its support of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has passed up several opportunities to re-examine its support of the Bush administration's push for war.
In recent reports on President Bush's September 20 statement that he "[a]bsolutely" would order U.S. troops into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden, Bloomberg News and Reuters joined CNN in ignoring Bush's contradictory statement that the United States could send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."
Chris Matthews complained that the news media "sucks lately in covering the Iraq war," later asserting, "I have been a voice out there against this bullshit war from the beginning." But Media Matters has documented numerous instances during the past three years in which Matthews lauded President Bush's handling of the war, advanced false and misleading claims about the war, and attacked Democratic critics of the war.