In a January 23 speech defending his warrantless domestic surveillance program, President Bush claimed that Congress' 2001 authorization of force, upheld by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, establishes his authority to conduct the program. But numerous legal authorities have objected to Bush's claim that the high court affirmed his authority to wiretap U.S. residents without a warrant. Despite these objections, several news outlets repeated Bush's claim without challenge.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell claimed that recent polls on President Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping showed "little public outcry over the program, especially when [the administration] tell[s] people it is limited only to those who talk to Al Qaeda." What Mitchell did not note is that the administration's characterization of the program understates its scope. Moreover, recent polling shows that support for the program is at best split.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld rejected a Democratic study that showed that the military has been strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Schieffer did not note that Rumsfeld also rejected a Pentagon-funded report that came to a similar conclusion.
ABC's World News Tonight uncritically reported President Bush's discredited claim that the National Security Agency might have identified some of the 9-11 terrorists before the attacks if his warrantless domestic surveillance program had been in place.
In his Washington Times column, Donald Lambro repeated a number of falsehoods about the domestic spying scandal.
An Associated Press article described the debate over the NSA spying program as "whether the administration should be able to eavesdrop on suspected terrorist communications" and reported that "congressional Democrats" have criticized this practice. However, critics of the program have not contested that the administration "should be able to eavesdrop on suspected terrorist communications." Rather, the controversy concerns whether the president is legally authorized to allow the domestic eavesdropping without first obtaining a warrant.
In his speech before the National Security Agency, President Bush repeated a debunked claim, previously reported uncritically by some in the media, that his warrantless domestic spying program could have identified some of the 9-11 hijackers. Bush's repetition of the claim gives the media another opportunity to examine it critically in their reporting.
For the third time in just over three months, Bill O'Reilly appeared on NBC's Today despite the fact that, in his previous appearance on the show, he compared those who support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq to Hitler appeasers.
Many news outlets have uncritically repeated Gen. Michael Hayden's claim that the administration's warrantless spying program would have detected some of the 9-11 attackers.
Numerous media outlets repeated without challenge White House senior adviser Karl Rove's defense of President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, in which Rove falsely claimed that "some important Democrats clearly disagree" with the proposition that "if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why." In fact, no leading Democrat has said that it is not in our interest to monitor Al Qaeda's communications.
CNN correspondent Jeanne Meserve interviewed Tom Ridge, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about the department's decision not to raise the national threat level following Osama bin Laden's recent warning of future attacks against the United States. However, Meserve failed to ask Ridge an obvious question about his 2005 admission that, while head of the DHS, he had regularly been pressured by the Bush administration to raise the threat level even though he did not believe that the intelligence warranted it.
Reacting to the recent designation of 'Worst Person in the World' by MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for saying that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan is "pimping out the tragedy of her own son's death for her own agenda," Glenn Beck expounded further: "It's almost so horrible, it seems true."
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a contributor to National Review, falsely suggested that FISA did not apply in wartime because due process "in wartime is not the same as" due process "the rest of the time." In direct contradiction to McCarthy's claim, FISA does, in fact, contain specific wartime provisions.
On MSNBC's Hardball, National Review White House correspondent Byron York claimed that Osama bin Laden, in a 2004 videotape, "suggested that ... if states vote against Bush, then we'll [Al Qaeda] protect you in the future." York's comment was apparently based on a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute indicating that bin Laden threatened the individual U.S. states not to vote for President Bush, but that translation has been disputed by numerous scholars and experts.
Several media figures have used the release of Osama bin Laden's new audiotape to denounce critics of the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq.