In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
At a White House press conference, President Bush described Americans who think the Iraq war has made the country less safe as "naïve" and rebutted claims that the conflict has contributed to the growing terrorist threat by repeating his illogical argument that "[w]e weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th." But reporters failed to challenge his non-responsive remarks, and several print outlets uncritically reported them shortly thereafter.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend's claims that "there's no question that terrorism was a priority" in the Bush administration before 9-11 and that the Bush administration was unaware of the "comprehensive strategy to proceed with the war on terror" former President Clinton said he left with the incoming administration, despite the fact that the 9-11 Commission offered claims to the contrary.
CNN and the Associated Press reported without challenge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's misleading response to former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to September 11, 2001.
ABC's Diane Sawyer let Bill O'Reilly misleadingly defend President Bush's efforts to pursue Osama bin Laden and to put forward without challenge the dubious claim that the so-called "traditionalist" cause O'Reilly champions in his book is "not a religious movement." Sawyer also failed to challenge O'Reilly on the numerous falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations in his new book.
In the Fox News premiere of her new show, The Live Desk, host Martha MacCallum advanced several falsehoods regarding the respective anti-terrorism efforts of Presidents Clinton and Bush, while discussing Chris Wallace's recent interview with Clinton. MacCallum falsely claimed that Richard Clarke was demoted by the Bush administration after 9-11 and that the Clinton administration abandoned opportunities to take out Osama bin Laden, despite having him "in their scope."
In discussing former President Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Howard Kurtz wrote in his column that Clinton gave an "impassioned, finger-wagging answer" to Wallace's question about why he failed to "do more ... and put [Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda] out of business." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz asserted, "[I]t would seem that ... the former president just went overboard." But in neither instance did Kurtz indicate that Clinton gave a substantive defense of his administration's anti-terror efforts in response.
During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."
CNN's Kelly Arena uncritically reported U.S. government officials' claim that the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah and terrorism suspect Ramzi bin al-Shibh led to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Arena failed to note evidence indicating that the interrogation of Zubaydah and bin al-Shibh had little to no impact on Mohammed's capture.
In recent reports on President Bush's September 20 statement that he "[a]bsolutely" would order U.S. troops into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden, Bloomberg News and Reuters joined CNN in ignoring Bush's contradictory statement that the United States could send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."
Bill O'Reilly's claim to be on an Al Qaeda "death list" has reportedly been disputed by an FBI official and a "correspondent" at Fox News.
Brit Hume uncritically reported Alberto Gonzales's defense of the Bush administration's alleged decision to send a Canadian-Syrian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured and falsely confessed to terrorist affiliations, as documented in a recently released Canadian judicial report. Hume failed to note that Syria reportedly has a history of using torture.
Less than two weeks after it was revealed that The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes had been chosen to write an official biography of Dick Cheney, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a postwar report on Iraq's weapons programs and its purported links to terrorism that thoroughly debunked the claim -- repeatedly advanced by Hayes -- that there existed a connection between the government of Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and 9-11.
In his recent interview with President Bush, Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Bush on his statement that he "[a]bsolutely" would give the order to pursue Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In a previous press conference, Bush had asserted that the United States could not send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."