Many in the media have simply asserted as fact that President Bush's alleged authorization of the release of key judgments of a classified National Intelligence Estimate is legal, without any discussion of the implications or consequences of such a position. Media Matters has prepared a list of questions arising from the revelation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's claim that Bush did just that -- questions that the simple assertion of the legality of the president's alleged actions doesn't begin to answer.
Fox News' Carl Cameron adopted Republican attorney Victoria Toensing's false claim that President Bush's alleged authorization of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former vice presidential chief of staff, to leak portions of a classified NIE "has nothing whatsoever to do with the Valerie Plame matter."
On Hardball, NBC News' David Gregory repeated the Bush administration's defense of President Bush's alleged authorization of a leak of classified information to the press in 2003. Gregory cited White House officials' argument that "the reality is, once the president makes a decision to authorize the release of information, it's no longer classified, it's instantly declassified." Host Chris Matthews challenged Gregory's assertion, noting that it "doesn't hold up."
CNN's David Ensor claimed that a 2003 executive order "makes clear that the president and the vice president can order aides," such as Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "to give any classified material they want to a reporter." Similarly, in his New York Post column, John Podhoretz, citing a 1982 executive order, claimed that President Bush "can declassify a document merely by declaring it unclassified."
In reporting on the disclosure that President Bush authorized a leak of classified information to the press in 2003, The Wall Street Journal ignored the apparent contradiction between the president's actions and his oft-stated aversion to leaks of classified information.
On Hardball, NBC News' David Gregory repeated the false statement that Joseph C. Wilson IV "alleges" that Vice President Dick Cheney "set up" Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's regime had purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger, and "that Cheney knew ... that [Wilson] was going and knew of his findings." In fact, Wilson has never claimed that Cheney or Cheney's office sent him to Niger; rather, Wilson has maintained that he was dispatched by the CIA and that Cheney did not know that Wilson went to Niger.
In a column for The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger claimed that the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by insurgents in Iraq "qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction" because the "mass media distribute the dead, dismembered victims into our living rooms morning and night."
Substituting for host Bill O'Reilly on The Radio Factor, Michael Smerconish repeatedly discussed "the sissification of America," claiming that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies."
Over the span of two weeks, Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro has apparently reversed his support of continued U.S. military action in Iraq, without acknowledging that he has done so.
CNN's David Ensor, reporting on the revelation that President Bush "authorized" the disclosure of classified portions of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate pertaining to Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction, simply asserted without elaboration that unnamed "experts" say Bush's actions were "legal," and that the president has "the right" to declassify such information. Similarly, Fox News' Brit Hume said that both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "have the legal authority under an executive order signed by the president to make public classified information. So that takes the unauthorized out of it." Neither Ensor nor Hume challenged the notion that the president has the authority to leak classified information, questioned whether Bush -- assuming he has that authority -- properly declassified the information, or made any effort to explore the ramifications of the president's exercise of that alleged authority.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace offered up a series of false or misleading statements regarding President Bush's authorization of a warrantless domestic wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency.
Just days after the Democratic Party released a national security plan, CNN host Wolf Blitzer and NBC Today host Matt Lauer simply ignored the release and allowed -- and even encouraged -- Republican guests to suggest the Democrats have no "agenda." This continues patterns by CNN and Today of largely ignoring the Democrats' security plan, despite repeatedly reporting or commenting on the Democratic Party's purported lack of clear alternatives to the Republicans.
During an interview with Al Franken, Tim Russert objected to Franken's assertion that "[President] Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney did explicitly link Iraq to 9-11 on several occasions, especially when speaking to the naïve Russert." In fact, Cheney twice directly linked Iraq to the 9-11 attacks while appearing on Russert's NBC program Meet the Press. Additionally, while Bush "never brought ... up" the purported Iraqi link to 9-11 during a 2004 Meet the Press interview, neither did Russert, who could have asked Bush to explain a letter he sent to Congress shortly after the start of the Iraq war, in which he explicitly linked Iraq to 9-11.
In keeping with a pattern at The Washington Post, Shailagh Murray and Howard Kurtz dismissed suggestions that the Post should follow up on a National Journal article on an internal Bush administration review, which found that President Bush had been specifically advised that claims he made during his 2003 State of the Union address about Iraq's nuclear program might not be true. Despite the Post's failure to report on the revelation, Murray suggested readers already knew "that Bush had some indication" the intelligence he cited "was faulty."
On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert did not challenge Sen. John McCain's assertion that the Bush administration's false prewar claims about Iraq represented a "colossal intelligence failure" and that "[e]very intelligence agency in the world believed that he [former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction." In fact, many of the Bush administration's most dramatic prewar claims -- about Iraq's supposed nuclear program, its alleged ties to Al Qaeda, and its willingness to attack the United States -- had been questioned by U.S. intelligence agencies.