Amid last month's media frenzy surrounding the FBI investigation of Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger, MSNBC, CNN, and FOX hosts repeated unfounded rumors that Berger removed and/or destroyed documents in order to coverup incriminating information regarding the Clinton administration's anti-terror efforts.
On July 30, under the headline "Berger Cleared of Withholding Material From 9/11 Commission," The Wall Street Journal reported that archives officials investigating the matter found that "no original materials are missing and nothing Mr. Berger reviewed was withheld from the [9-11] commission." In light of the officials' findings, the accusation that Berger might have been trying to hide particular documents is completely unfounded.
While both MSNBC (Countdown, 7/30/04) and CNN (American Morning, 7/30/04; CNN Live Today, 7/30/04; In the Money, 7/31/04; CNN Sunday Morning, 8/1/04) reported on The Wall Street Journal story, FOX News Channel did not and instead continued to spread allegations that Berger stuffed documents in his socks. As Media Matters for America previously documented, on July 21, FOX & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade described the issue of what was taken by Berger as "critical" and questioned the 9/11 commission's level of confidence in having seen all materials. On the August 2 FOX & Friends, rather than reporting that Berger had been cleared of withholding material from the 9-11 Commission, Kilmeade continued to smear Berger: "[H]e [Berger] had to review some of that stuff and he was so concerned about memorizing it he stuffed it in his socks."
Washington Post staff writer Susan Schmidt's July 21 article on the Berger investigation also needs clarification. While Schmidt stated that "the documents that were removed were copies," she also hinted at the possibility of a cover-up: "Even as Berger acknowledged his actions, it remained unclear the degree to which they stemmed from carelessness or an intentional effort to hide and remove the documents." The Washington Post has yet to report that Berger has been cleared of withholding documents from the commission in order to clarify Schmidt's suggestion that Berger may have been attempting to hide classified documents.