A Washington Post article about the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program falsely claimed that the program's critics are "some Democrats." In fact, many Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, also disagree with the administration's legal justifications for the program.
Reporting on President Bush's February 9 account of how the government successfully thwarted a 2002 Al Qaeda plot to crash a hijacked airplane into a Los Angeles skyscraper, numerous media outlets -- including The New York Times, Associated Press, and USA Today -- ignored doubts among counterterrorism officials that the proposed attack ever advanced beyond the initial planning stages and ever posed a serious threat.
Fox News host John Gibson suggested a link between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and the foiling of an Al Qaeda plot, first described by President Bush in a February 9 speech, to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Bush, however, did not mention the controversial surveillance program in his speech, and the White House refused to say if the domestic surveillance program was involved in foiling the terrorist plot.
Former Time magazine correspondent John Dickerson answered questions raised by a Media Matters item during an appearance on The Al Franken Show. His answers indicated that he is familiar with the Media Matters item, yet Dickerson did not deny the central point of the item -- that he and his colleagues participated in the publication of misleading articles that contained statements they knew to be false. Nor did Dickerson offer a single relevant explanation or justification for the knowing publication, without rebuttal, of a false statement by White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
On The 700 Club, senior reporter Dale Hurd concluded a news report by claiming that controversial cartoons perceived as anti-Islamic "seem to have unified the Muslim world against the West," but that "[i]t remains to be seen whether they [the cartoons] will also unify the West in defense of its civilization." But, contrary to Hurd's suggestion of unanimity in the Muslim world, many of the religious leaders and government officials who represent Muslims have condemned the widespread rioting that followed publication of the cartoons.
During an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney on PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, anchor Jim Lehrer missed numerous opportunities to challenge assertions Cheney made in defense of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, attorneys David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey defended President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program by repeating the claim that the program monitors only the communications of "Al Qaeda operatives" either out of or into the United States and that its "domestic footprint" was "minimized." In fact, as Media Matters has previously noted, the program has reportedly cast a broad net and monitored communications of thousands of people with no connection to Al Qaeda.
MSNBC host Dan Abrams failed to challenge the assertion of Kris W. Kobach, a constitutional law professor and former counsel to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, that President Bush's controversial domestic spying program dealt only with "very targeted" calls. In fact, recent media reports indicate that the program has cast a broad net, monitoring thousands of people with no relationship to Al Qaeda.
In his nationally syndicated column, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell drew a false comparison between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and Bill Clinton's call for expanding anti-terror legislation following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In drawing the comparison, Bozell ignored key distinctions: Clinton publicly called for Congress to pass legislation; Bush secretly authorized a clandestine surveillance program without informing the public or seeking congressional approval.
Bill O'Reilly claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was "set up to prevent ... criminal abuses" and does not address wartime. In fact, FISA contains specific wartime provisions.
Chris Matthews claimed that a comment made by President Bush in April 2004 that "[a]ny time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires ... a court order" was "pre-9-11."
A February 6 New York Times article by reporter Scott Shane reprinted, without challenge, a Republican senator's defense of President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program, failing to note reports that, contrary to Sen. Pat Roberts's claims, the Bush program has intercepted the communications of people in the United States with no apparent connection to Al Qaeda.
An International Herald Tribune article -- also published on The New York Times' website -- asserted that some Democrats who had been briefed on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program before it was publicly revealed "say" they "expressed concerns or objections" at the time -- suggesting that their claims are the only evidence that they did in fact express concern. The report ignored a letter written more than two years ago by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee describing his "lingering concerns" about the program.
On The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Tony Snow repeated the false claim that Valerie Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, said his wife "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by Robert Novak in a July 14, 2003, column. In fact, Wilson never made such a statement.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, Fox News' Chris Wallace failed to challenge Gen. Michael Hayden when he defended the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program by claiming that in order to undertake domestic surveillance without a warrant, the National Security Agency must have evidence "in the probable cause range." Hayden's statement appears to be in direct contradiction to an earlier statement he made, in which he said the program requires a "reasonable basis" standard that he admitted is "a bit softer than it is for a FISA warrant."