Numerous Republican lawmakers and candidates have echoed President Bush's repeated assertions that the United States must "stay the course" in Iraq. But now that Bush has "stopped using" the phrase when talking about the Iraq war, will the media ask GOP candidates who have stressed the need to "stay the course" in Iraq whether they will follow the president's lead in abandoning this language, or adhere to his, and their, original position?
CBS' Jim Axelrod reported that a White House official told him, "[D]o not expect to see anything significant prior to Election Day" "as far as a significant change" in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and then quoted the official as saying: "You're not going to see anything before November 8th. It would be political suicide, and Karl Rove would never allow it." Axelrod and anchor Katie Couric failed to point out that, as of October 25, the death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq stood at 91 for the month, which sets a pace that would make October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in two years.
Fox News' Brett Baier failed to challenge Rep. Peter Hoekstra's claim that his decision to suspend a Democratic House Intelligence Committee staffer for allegedly leaking portions of a National Intelligence Estimate was based on "sufficient evidence." A Washington Post report debunked a previous claim by Hoekstra about the staffer's involvement.
In an appearance on the "Free Speech" segment of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that Al Gore "reversed course" on Iraq -- in fact, Gore has consistently opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- and, despite Hannity's own history of politically divisive statements, attributed the country's "divided" state to Democrats.
Numerous conservative media figures have attacked CNN for broadcasting video footage of insurgents attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq: Pat Buchanan said that CNN "ought to be treated like Al Jazeera"; Michael Savage even claimed CNN had "committed murder" by airing the video; Brent Bozell asserted that CNN was "cavorting with the enemy to get video to put on the air in the United States to break the will of the American people."
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ABC's Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos juxtaposed actor Michael J. Fox's recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill with the Republican National Committee's (RNC) new advertisement featuring clips of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists making threats against the United States. Roberts claimed Fox's ad is "raising a lot of eyebrows," but she did not note that Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, has endorsed McCaskill because she supports embryonic stem cell research. Introducing the RNC ad, Stephanopoulos asserted that Republicans have a "big card" to play on "terrorism," but recent polling is mixed on whether the public trusts Democrats or Republicans more on dealing with terrorism.
In an interview on CBS' The Early Show, White House senior adviser Dan Bartlett stated that the Bush administration's Iraq policy has "never been a 'stay the course' strategy" -- a claim that the Associated Press reported immediately after. But neither the CBS interview nor the AP article made any mention of previous, repeated assertions by President Bush that the United States "will stay the course in Iraq."
In his interview with President Bush, ABC's George Stephanopoulos did not challenge Bush on several statements that directly contradict previous statements and actions, including when Bush asserted that his administration has "never been stay the course" in Iraq.