During an exclusive interview with President Bush on the February 28 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight, co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas repeated White House distortions and uncritically accepted Bush's answers -- even though some were demonstrably false.
Ignoring the bipartisan argument that the law requires it, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported that Dubai Ports World (DPW) requested that the Bush administration conduct an extended 45-day security review of a deal through which the company would take over port operations in six U.S. cities.
Fox News' Major Garrett reported that "[t]he head" of Dubai Ports World (DPW) said he "didn't know" that the United Arab Emirates enforces a trade embargo with Israel, even though he testified at a Senate committee hearing that he believed the boycott was being enforced at the company's ports in Dubai.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named Fox News host Brit Hume "Worst Person in the World" for accusing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of being "factually challenged" in his description of the deal under which a company owned by the government of Dubai would take over the British firm Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which runs terminal operations at six U.S. ports. Hume took issue with Reid's statement that the deal gives "another country control of our ports," but as Media Matters for America has noted, Hume himself has described the Dubail company as assuming "control" of the ports.
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February 28 articles in The New York Times and The Boston Globe falsely reported that a bill introduced by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Robert Menendez, and other Democratic senators would bar "foreign-owned companies" from controlling operations at U.S. ports. In fact, the bill would prohibit companies owned by foreign governments -- not all foreign-owned companies -- from controlling U.S. port operations.
On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, in response to co-host Alan Colmes's statement that the public may not be getting the whole story regarding the port deal involving a company owned by the Dubai government, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris said that "this is one area where he [Bush] has earned the right to be taken on faith."
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Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund stated that he "got a security briefing" on United Arab Emirates actions to assist U.S. anti-terror efforts but suggested he "can't talk about" what he learned, leaving viewers to wonder what the "security briefing" consisted of, whether he was privy to classified information, and, if so, why.
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Fox News' Brit Hume and Carl Cameron both took issue with Sen. Harry Reid's statement that in allowing state-owned Dubai Ports World (DPW) to manage terminal operations at six major U.S. ports, the Bush administration gave "another country control of our ports." Cameron retorted that DPW "is not taking control of any U.S. ports" and Hume later claimed that Reid's assertion was "factually challenged." However, numerous Fox News reporters and anchors -- including Hume himself -- have described DPW as "assuming control" of the ports.
In his column about the Dubai Ports World deal, in which the company is set to assume control of six major U.S. ports, Richard Cohen quoted President Bush making the false characterization of opposition to the deal: "[I]t's OK for a British company to manage some ports, but not OK for a company from a country that is a valuable ally in the war on terror." By quoting Bush without challenge, Cohen adopted the false premise at its heart: that the only difference between the British company and DPW is country of origin. In fact, DPW is owned by the government of Dubai, while the previous owner is not government-owned, a critical distinction as a matter of law.
Several journalists and media figures have taken to describing Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's approval of a deal allowing state-owned Dubai Ports World to assume control of six major U.S. ports as an attempt by Democrats to move "to the right" of President Bush and Republicans in Congress on issues of national security. In fact, some of the Democrats who have most strongly denounced the deal have been among the most active proponents of enhancing port security since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, author Richard Miniter misrepresented the issues surrounding the Bush administration's approval of the takeover of six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World (DPW). Miniter falsely asserted that DPW "has gone through every security check" and that the deal "was thoroughly vetted by an interagency review." Miniter also insisted that in objecting to the deal, administration critics were displaying "anti-Arab bias."
Chris Matthews compared George W. Bush to Atticus Finch, the hero of the 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (Warner Books).
An article in The New York Times misrepresented the reasons cited by "Democrats and some Republicans" for criticizing the recent agreement to transfer control of terminals at ports in six U.S. cities to Dubai Ports World. In fact, members of Congress from both parties have accused the administration of flouting the law, which requires a 45-day investigation when the acquiring company is owned by a foreign government and the deal could affect national security.
An Associated Press article on the request by Dubai Ports World (DPW) that the U.S. government fully review the national security implications of the company's takeover of six U.S. ports did not note that DPW is owned by the government of Dubai. The article also omitted the fact that the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), in its original review of the DPW deal, declined to conduct the additional 45-day investigation that DPW is now offering to undergo and that critics of the deal say the law required originally.
Chris Matthews cropped a quote by Sen. Charles Schumer to suggest that Schumer had simply denied that his concerns about the Bush Administration's ports deal arose from any "anti-Arab suspicion." Schumer, as quoted by Matthews, said that his concern about the ports agreement "is not because the UAE is an Arab country." However, in Schumer's next sentence, which Matthews left out, Schumer spelled out the reason for his concern about the agreement -- he said it was "because the UAE has had involvements with terrorism."