Both the Associated Press and USA Today uncritically reported President Bush's highly misleading claim that he authorized the selective declassification of an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate because he "wanted people to see the truth" behind his dubious prewar arguments regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Responding to readers' comments on The Washington Post's falsehood-laden April 9 editorial on President Bush's authorization of intelligence leaks, Post media writer Howard Kurtz -- instead of reporting on the editorial's numerous falsehoods -- stated: "I don't care what Post editorials say, except as a reader."
Media Matters for America presents a side-by-side comparison of the claims put forth by an April 9 Washington Post editorial that repeated numerous falsehoods in defense of President Bush's reported authorization of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to disclose the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the corresponding falsehoods forwarded by conservatives and Republicans in the media, and the Post's own reporting -- some of it appearing in the same edition of the paper as the editorial -- that debunks these falsehoods.
William Kristol and The New York Times misrepresented information from a classified October 2002 NIE that President Bush allegedly authorized former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to leak to the media.
Ignoring Bush administration officials' willingness to discuss the CIA leak investigation when it serves their purpose, NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell falsely claimed that "[e]ven days after the president became publicly entangled in the CIA leak case, his long-standing, no-comment policy has held."
On Fox News Sunday, correspondent Bret Baier cited reports in The New Yorker magazine and The Washington Post regarding plans for possible U.S. air strikes on Iran to neutralize that country's purported nuclear weapons program. But Baier failed to mention the revelation in both articles that military strategists and members of the Bush administration are reportedly considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.
William Kristol attacked special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the 2003 leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as "absurd" and a "politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration." He also asserted that Fitzgerald is "out to discredit the administration." However in 1998, Kristol attacked as "Nixonian" critics of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who sought and obtained authorization to expand the scope of his original mandate to investigate the Whitewater deal, which yielded no charges of wrongdoing by Clinton, into an investigation of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.
After the revelation that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former vice presidential chief of staff, testified that President Bush allegedly authorized him to disclose classified portions of an NIE pertaining to Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction, Fox News largely ignored the story, preferring instead to focus on the controversy surrounding Rep. Cynthia McKinney's alleged altercation with a Capitol Police officer.
John Gibson falsely claimed that a "Russian general said that North Korea does have the [nuclear] bomb, and Iran's going to have the [nuclear] bomb literally any minute." In fact, according to the BBC, the general whom Gibson was apparently citing, Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, said that "Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within the next few years."
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.