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.
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.
A March 6 Associated Press article misstated what Rep. Duncan Hunter outlined as the scope of his proposal to ban foreign companies from owning or operating any U.S. installations deemed critical to national security. According to the article, on the March 5 broadcast of ABC's This Week, Hunter said his proposal would "require foreign governments to divest of critical U.S. installations." In fact, Hunter stated that his legislation would require that all "critical infrastructure[s]" in the United States "be operated by Americans and ... be owned by Americans," meaning that the ban would apply to all foreign companies, not only those owned or controlled by foreign governments.
Michael Barone claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee's 2004 report on prewar intelligence assessments of Iraq showed "that the CIA did obtain evidence of an al-Qaida-Saddam relationship from foreign intelligence and open sources." In fact, the report was critical of the U.S. intelligence community for using foreign sources too heavily, and it concluded that the CIA "reasonably assessed" that contacts between Saddam and Al Qaeda "did not add up to an established formal relationship."
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.
In reporting on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ports controversy, NBC's Brian Williams failed to inform viewers that Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of Dubai, a member of the UAE. NBC's David Gregory later indicated that the company is state-owned but entirely ignored the significance of this. In doing so, they obscured the source of the controversy surrounding the Bush administration's approval of a deal to grant the company control of six U.S. ports.
CNN anchors and reporters repeatedly described Dubai Ports World -- the company set to assume control of six U.S. ports -- as an "Arab company" or a "Dubai-based company." However, in describing the company as such, these reporters are ignoring a key factor in the bipartisan controversy surrounding the takeover deal, which is that the company is a state-run business in the United Arab Emirates.
In her syndicated column, Ann Coulter referred to the Iranian president as a "jihad monkey" and wrote that "conventions of civilized behavior, personal hygiene and grooming" are "inapplicable when Muslims are involved."
CNN became at least the fourth news outlet to adopt the administration's preferred term "terrorist surveillance program" to describe President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance 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.
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.
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.