PBS' NewsHour host Jim Lehrer allowed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to mischaracterize a letter to Congress by five top uniformed military lawyers. Frist suggested that the letter supports the Bush administration's proposed legislation regarding the interrogation and trial of terrorism suspects. However, Lehrer did not mention that the letter addresses only certain provisions of Bush's plan, not the entire bill, and that the military lawyers reportedly refused to sign a letter endorsing Bush's entire bill. Lehrer also allowed Frist to misrepresent comments Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made in a NewsHour interview the previous night.
After examining The Washington Post's coverage of prewar intelligence on Iraq, executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. admitted that the newspaper did not give "proper play" to stories that could have been seen as challenging the Bush administration's pro-war arguments. Despite this admission, it appears the Post is following the same pattern in its coverage of intelligence on Iran's nuclear capability.
In reports on the Meet the Press debate between Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb, the Associated Press and The New York Times noted Tim Russert's questioning of Webb about his position in 1979 that "[t]here is a place for women in the military, but not in combat." However, both failed to mention that Allen also faced questions about his far more recent statements opposing the presence of women in combat.
Numerous print and television outlets uncritically reported President Bush's response to a reporter's question about a letter by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which Powell argued that "[t]he world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Bush stated: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that." In fact, neither the question nor Powell's letter made any such comparison.
Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell again conflated objections to factual errors and differences of opinion to dismiss readers' complaints against a Post editorial about the Valerie Plame case. The editorial contained demonstrable falsehoods previously exposed by the Post's own reporting, as Media Matters for America documented.
Bill O'Reilly selectively cited a New York Times article to suggest that government officials involved in the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah agree that Zubaydah provided critical information to the United States after the CIA used "harsh" interrogation techniques. But in that same Times article, other government officials challenged the efficacy of the interrogation techniques used on Zubaydah.
Two days after ABC aired the conclusion of its controversial two-part miniseries, The Path to 9/11, Ann Coulter repeated a number of falsehoods about the "docudrama" and President Clinton's handling of terrorism, including alleging that the movie "relied on the 9/11 Commission Report"; that Clinton "refused the handover of [Osama] bin Laden"; and that "Islamic terrorists with suspected links to al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein bombed the World Trade Center" in 1993.
Sen. John McCain has taken on former deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage -- who was recently revealed to be syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's primary source for the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame -- as one of the foreign policy advisers for McCain's potential 2008 presidential candidacy. Will the media ask McCain any of the numerous questions raised by the recent disclosures about Armitage's role in the Plame leak?
The Associated Press and CNN's The Situation Room reported on a press conference organized by Sen. George Allen, in which female Naval Academy graduates criticized challenger Jim Webb for a 1979 article in which Webb wrote, "There is a place for women in the military, but not in combat." However, neither outlet noted that Allen has also spoken against women serving in combat.
Washington Post staff writer Jonathan Weisman reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a GOP bill that would essentially codify the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. But Weisman ignored a bipartisan bill passed by the same committee that would reaffirm the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court approval for all domestic eavesdropping for foreign intelligence purposes.
House Majority Leader John Boehner received widespread media coverage for his remark about Democratic colleagues: "Sometimes, based on the votes that get cast, you wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of the terrorists than in protecting the American people." Sen. Mary Landrieu responded to similar criticism in the Senate with an indictment of the Republicans' counterterrorism policies. Will the media highlight Landrieu's comments as they did Boehner's?
Fred Barnes reported that President Bush told him that capturing Osama bin Laden is not "a paramount goal of the war on terror." But Barnes gave no indication that the comments he reported appear to conflict with Bush's repeated, public pledges to stay on the trail of bin Laden. Will other members of the media probe this apparent discrepancy?
In her Today debut, Meredith Vieira claimed that the Democrats have "argued against the Republican position for months now, but they really haven't come up with a plan of their own when it comes to victory in Iraq without withdrawing." But Vieira's assertion appeared to be based on an assumption that is now being called into question by the U.S. military -- that remaining in Iraq indefinitely constitutes a plan for "victory."
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer, apparently unaware of a newly unveiled Democratic national security agenda, asked why Democrats -- when faced with the argument that Republicans will "make you safer" -- "haven't come up with a better answer than, 'That's not a fair comment.' "
NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams was the only evening network news broadcast to report on a classified assessment by the Marine Corps intelligence chief in Iraq that describes that country's Anbar province as "lost."