Denver broadcast outlets covered news conference but failed to report on Bush's stated intention to maintain troops in Iraq through his presidency

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Denver's three major network affiliates aired multiple stories about President Bush's August 21 news conference on the Middle East, but only KCNC's CBS4 News at Noon newscast on August 21 noted Bush's statement that "We're not leaving [Iraq], so long as I'm the president."

Though all three of Denver's major network affiliates aired multiple stories about President George W. Bush's August 21 news conference focusing on the situation in Middle East, only KCNC's CBS4 News at Noon newscast August 21 showed or noted Bush's statement that "We're not leaving [Iraq], so long as I'm the president."

From the White House Conference Center Briefing Room, August 21.

BUSH: Yes, Martha. Sorry.

QUESTION: That's quite all right. Mr. President; I'd like to go back to Iraq. You've continually cited the elections, the new government, its progress in Iraq, and yet the violence has gotten worse in certain areas. You've had to go to Baghdad again. Is it not time for a new strategy? And if not, why not?

BUSH: You know, Martha, you've covered the Pentagon, you know that the Pentagon is constantly adjusting tactics because they have the flexibility from the White House to do so.

QUESTION: I'm talking about strategy --

BUSH: The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, it's important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists.

No, we're not leaving. The strategic objective is to help this government succeed. That's the strategic -- and not only to help the government -- the reformers in Iraq succeed, but to help the reformers across the region succeed to fight off the elements of extremism. The tactics are which change. Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you're leaving before the mission is complete. And we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.

The August 21 news conference began shortly after 8 a.m. MT. As such, Colorado Media Matters reviewed all local news broadcasts from Denver's ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates aired in the 24 hours following the conclusion of the president's remarks. While several newscasts noted that Bush had rejected calls to pull troops out of Iraq, only KCNC's CBS4 News at Noon provided a clip of Bush's pledge to leave troops in Iraq at least until the end of his presidency in January 2009.

Though two CBS4 news broadcasts subsequent to the August 21 edition of CBS4 News at Noon featured reports on the news conference, CBS4 News at 5 p.m. failed to mention even that Bush had discussed the Iraq issue in his morning address. And the other, CBS4 News at 10 p.m., did not include Bush's aforementioned comments. Rather, co-anchor Molly Hughes noted that Bush "rejected calls to pull out the troops" and then showed viewers only Bush's statement that "[i]f you think problems are tough now, imagine what it would be like if the United States leaves before this government has a chance to defend herself, govern herself."

The two other major network affiliates also covered the presidential news conference. But, similar to the CBS4 News at 10 p.m. report, neither NBC affiliate KUSA 9News nor ABC affiliate KMGH 7News aired Bush's pledge not to withdraw from Iraq before the end of his presidency. For example, the August 21 broadcast of 7News Now at 4 p.m. featured a clip of Bush stating, "There's a lot of people -- good, decent people, saying 'get out now.' " 7News followed this with a second clip of Bush saying: "It's a big mistake. It would be wrong, in my judgment, for us to leave before the mission is complete in Iraq."

Likewise, in a report on KUSA's August 21 edition of 9News at 5 p.m. analyzing Bush's remarks, co-anchor Adele Arakawa said: "[T]he president says he can't give a time when troops will get to come home but did say it won't be until, quote, 'the job is done.' " Immediately thereafter, the report included a clip of Bush stating: "[I]t would send an unbelievably, you know, terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror." 9News neglected to note that this statement immediately followed Bush's pledge that "[w]e're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, August 22 print editions of The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News failed to cover Bush's statement that he was committed to staying in Iraq for the remainder of his presidency. In contrast, The Gazette of Colorado Springs published an article quoting the president as saying, "We're not leaving [Iraq], so long as I'm the president." Media Matters for America has also noted a similar failure by other media outlets to cover Bush's comments.

Colorado Media Matters reviewed the following news broadcasts:

KCNC

  • August 21 broadcasts of CBS4 News at Noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m.
  • August 22 broadcasts of CBS4 News at 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 6 a.m.

KMGH

  • August 21 broadcasts of 7News at 11 a.m., Now at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 10 p.m.
  • August 22 broadcasts of 7News at 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 6 a.m.

KUSA

  • August 21 broadcasts of 9News at Noon, 4:00 at 9News, and 9News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m.
  • August 22 broadcasts of 9News at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

From the August 21 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at Noon:

BROOKE WAGNER: President Bush is calling for a quick deployment of an international force to Lebanon. That was the main topic of his news conference this morning, but he also discussed Iraq. CBS4's Aleen Sirgany has details.

[...]

SIRGANY: When the president opened the floor to questions, the first was about the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush vowed to stay the course until Iraq can stand on its own. In the name of securing the United States.

BUSH: We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake.

SIRGANY: The president's remarks come on the heels of a deadly weekend in Iraq. Snipers took aim at a major Shiite religious procession on Sunday, killing at least 17 and injuring hundreds more.

From the August 21 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 5 p.m.:

MOLLY HUGHES: President Bush is pledging 230 million dollars in aid to help Lebanon rebuild.

BUSH: America is making a long-term commitment to help the people in Lebanon, within a state.

HUGHES: The president announced that aid package this morning during a White House news conference. He's also calling for the quick deployment of an international peacekeeping force to help uphold that fragile cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah.

From the August 21 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 10 p.m.:

MOLLY HUGHES: President Bush is promising another 230 million dollars to help rebuild war-torn Lebanon. The president talked about the Mideast and Iraq during a news conference in Washington this morning. On the Middle East, he called for a quick deployment of an international peacekeeping force to ensure the delicate cease-fire holds up. When questions turned to Iraq, the president says he's been frustrated by recent events but rejected calls to pull out the troops.

BUSH: If you think problems are tough now, imagine what it would be like if the United States leaves before this government has a chance to defend herself, govern herself.

From the August 21 broadcast of KMGH's 7News Now at 4 p.m.:

MIKE LANDESS: Mr. Bush spoke in a rare news conference concentrating on the festering problems in the Mideast. ABC's Andrea Canning has our report this afternoon from Washington.

ANDREA CANNING: President Bush addressed the nation, making his case for a quick deployment of an international force to uphold the fragile cease-fire in southern Lebanon.

BUSH: The need is urgent. The international community must now designate leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement.

[...]

ANDREA CANNING: Mr. Bush also conceded that the escalating violence in Iraq has become a major issue in this year's midterm congressional elections.

BUSH: There are a lot of good, decent people, saying "get out now."

BUSH: It's a big mistake. It would be wrong, in my judgment, for us to leave before the mission is complete in Iraq.

CANNING: Monday was also one of the rare times President Bush admitted he is concerned about civil war in Iraq, but reiterated that pulling out too soon will only embolden the terrorists.

And from the August 21 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 5 p.m.:

ADELE ARAKAWA: President Bush said he will not order American troops out of Iraq until the time is right. The president says he can't give a time when troops will get to come home but did say it won't be until, quote, "the job is done."

BUSH: It would send an unbelievably, you know, terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks.

ARAKAWA: The president admits that he gets frustrated with what's going on in Iraq, where 100 people are killed each day. The president also said the U.S. plans to send 230 million dollars to Lebanon for reconstruction. He says he's disappointed the French government has decided not to lead the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon. Italy has agreed to lead it instead.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.