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.
President Bush and senior aides have claimed that Americans are increasingly disillusioned about the Iraq war because the mainstream media report only the violent and tragic events occurring there -- an accusation that has simultaneously been advanced by an array of conservative media figures.
During a March 21 press conference, the White House press corps failed to challenge President Bush after he offered a misleading and evasive answer about his reasons for invading Iraq in response to a question asked by Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, national security correspondent Bret Baier misrepresented a statement by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) assessing the progress he observed during a trip to Iraq, cropping Salazar's observation that "much of the country remains without infrastructure" and adding a qualifier to the senator's assessment that the Iraqi army is "not yet ready to control its own streets."
USA Today uncritically reported President Bush's denial, during a March 20 appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, that his administration had ever claimed a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9-11 terrorist attacks in making the case for war with Iraq. In addition, the article neglected to report that, in his response to an audience member's question, Bush created a straw-man argument by misrepresenting the substance of the question the attacks. In fact, Bush did claim such a connection existed, often generally and specifically in a letter to Congress at the start of the war.
Bill O'Reilly repeatedly accused the "heavily liberal" media of "looking to undermine" the Bush administration "for their own ideological purposes." O'Reilly also declared that "with the rise of the internet" the "far left now dominates the liberal agenda. ... To these Kool-Aid drinkers, no personal attack is out of bounds, no distortion too dishonest to use. They're all about the end justifying the means."
Following President Bush's speech at the City Club of Cleveland, several news outlets -- including The New York Times, Fox News, and National Public Radio -- reported without challenge or criticism Bush's example of Tal Afar as "a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq." By contrast, The Washington Post reported both the heightened sectarian strife and an Al Qaeda resurgence in the city.
Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron repeated President Bush's claim that Iran has helped Iraqi insurgents build deadlier improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but omitted the fact that Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that there's no proof to back up such a claim.
During an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney on CBS' Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer failed to challenge assertions Cheney made regarding the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, and recent low polling numbers.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto falsely suggested that the current U.S. offensive in the Sunni Triangle spurred Iran to seek negotiations with the U.S. for the first time in more than two decades. A March 16 Associated Press report noted that the announcement that Iran was open to talks about Iraq with the U.S. came in response to a request for such talks a day earlier -- before the Iraq operation began -- by senior Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who has "close ties to Iran."
On Hannity & Colmes, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris called the sectarian violence in Iraq "negotiation, Iraqi style," and said that it is "basically a financial negotiation." Morris further stated that the violence between warring Iraqi factions is merely "part of the democratic process going on."
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The Washington Post let pass the third anniversary of the Iraq war without printing an in-house editorial, thereby also foregoing another opportunity to retract or correct significant falsehoods it promulgated in support of the war. By contrast, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times both ran unsigned editorials addressing the war on March 19, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.