In covering President's Bush's March 13 speech, the media reported that Bush effectively laid out a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq by setting a "goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006" but completely ignored the numerous statements Bush and other administration officials have made denouncing timetables for withdrawal, and attacking those who propose them.
National Public Radio (NPR), the Associated Press, and ABC reported uncritically on the purported improvement of Iraqi forces, as touted by President Bush in a speech. But these outlets failed to note that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of operating independently has dropped from three in June 2005 to none eight months later. Moreover, contrary to NPR's assertion, Bush ignored this statistic in his speech and instead focused on other, more favorable indicators of improved troop readiness.
Rush Limbaugh falsely suggested that The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times changed their positions on the Dubai Ports World deal in order to criticize Bush. In fact, both papers had previously editorialized in favor of the deal.
Fox News political analyst Dick Morris claimed that there is no civil war coming to Iraq because "when Iraqi politicians negotiate over the coalition of their cabinet, they bomb each other's mosques."
James Taranto once again misrepresented Media Matters for America's position, this time in response to an item noting his false characterization of Media Matters' coverage of Rep. John Murtha's call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
A Washington Post article on the "partisan infighting" on the Senate Intelligence Committee failed to report that, in response to calls for an investigation into President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) threatened to restructure the committee "so that it is organized and operated like most Senate committees." The Senate Intelligence Committee's rules currently grant the minority party more power than on other Senate committees.
In an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Joseph R Biden Jr. (D-DE) challenged host Tim Russert's previous suggestion that Democratic lawmakers seized on the recent ports controversy in order to build their national security credentials. Biden pointed out that since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly put forth proposals to bolster port security nationwide -- proposals that have consistently been met with stiff Republican resistance.
Fox News host John Gibson praised the announcement by Dubai Ports World (DPW) that it would divest itself of leases it holds for terminals at six U.S. ports. Gibson also praised President Bush, stating: "[H]ats off to President Bush for not getting too stubborn over this deal."
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On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters repeated the claim -- previously advanced by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace -- that during the recent sectarian violence in Iraq, the "Iraqi army was able to put over 100,000 troops in the street, and they calmed the situation." But news reports contradict Pace's and Peters's claims.
James Taranto falsely claimed that Media Matters for America "cheered" Rep. John Murtha's call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq but also "denied that he had done any such thing." In fact, Media Matters neither endorsed nor condemned Murtha's proposal, nor did we deny Murtha called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Media Matters instead corrected those in the media who falsely claimed that Murtha called for an "immediate withdrawal" or who falsely referred to Rep. Duncan Hunter's one-sentence resolution calling for immediate withdrawal as the "Murtha amendment."
Following Dubai Ports World's announcement that it would divest its leases to terminals at six U.S. ports, news outlets and media figures depicted Republicans as having neutralized the issue of port security. In other cases, they portrayed the Democratic opposition to the state-owned Arab firm's acquisition of the ports as purely political. But such characterizations take a narrow view of the political issues involved in the controversy, entirely ignoring differences between the two parties' broader records on this issue.
On his radio program, Bill O'Reilly stated: "You know in a sane world, every country would unite against Iran and blow it off the face of the Earth. That would be the sane thing to do."
A Washington Post editorial adopted the Bush administration's false suggestion that there is no difference between Dubai Ports World (DPW) and Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O). The Post, like the Bush administration, suggested that criticism of the ports deal was based on DPW's Arab ownership and was therefore discriminatory. In fact, there is a key difference as a matter of law between DPW and P&O: DPW is a state-owned company, whereas P&O was not, prior to its acquisition by DPW.
Rush Limbaugh characterized congressional opposition to the proposed transfer of operational control of six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World -- a company owned by the government of Dubai -- as "a lynch mob." Limbaugh added that Republicans are "sitting there beating their chests like a bunch of Tarzans."
The New York Times issued a correction of a previous correction of an article that misstated the purpose of legislation by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) regarding control of U.S. seaports. But the Times has yet to issue a correction about a similar falsehood regarding port-related legislation proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).