9News uncritically airs Bush's claim that Democrats won't respond to terrorism "until we're attacked"

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KUSA 9News uncritically aired President Bush's assertion that Democrats won't respond to terrorism "until we're attacked." But the broadcast failed to note Democrats' numerous policies and statements on the issue that contradict Bush's claim.

The October 4 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 10 p.m. uncritically aired President Bush's assertion that Democrats don't want to respond to terrorism until after the United States is attacked, but failed to note Democratic policy proposals and statements to the contrary.

Before airing Bush's attack on Democrats, 9News anchor Bob Kendrick said that during an October 4 fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, "The president touched on topics such as the Patriot Act, wiretapping and the differences between Republicans and Democrats in the war on terror." A clip of Bush's speech from the fundraiser followed:

BUSH: Democrats take a law-enforcement approach to terrorism. That means America will wait until we're attacked before we respond. That is a pre-September 11, 2001, mindset. That won't work. It's just not gonna work.

But 9News failed to note that, contrary to Bush's statement, Democrats have addressed the issue of terrorism on numerous occasions.

In March, Congressional Democrats released a national security statement titled "Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World" that detailed a Democratic agenda for fighting the war on terror. Among the recommendations outlined in the papers:

  • Eliminate Osama Bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks like al Qaeda, finish the job in Afghanistan, and end the threat posed by the Taliban.
  • Double the size of our Special Forces, increase our human intelligence capabilities, and ensure our intelligence is free from political pressure.
  • Eliminate terrorist breeding grounds by combating the economic, social, and political conditions that allow extremism to thrive; lead international efforts to uphold and defend human rights; and renew longstanding alliances that have advanced our national security objectives.
  • Secure by 2010 loose nuclear materials that terrorists could use to build nuclear weapons or "dirty bombs."
  • Redouble efforts to stop nuclear weapons development in Iran and North Korea.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Democrats also repeatedly have criticized the Bush administration and the Republican Congress for failing to secure the nation's ports and chemical plants. They have proposed several pieces of legislation and sought to increase funding to secure those vulnerable sites. Republicans, however, have consistently voted against these Democratic security proposals.

Senate Bill 3785 is one recent piece of Democratic legislation to address the issue of terrorism. Introduced by Senate Minority Leader Harry S. Reid (D-NV) in September, the bill, according to a September 7 Roll Call (subscription required) article, "[S]ignificantly expands the size of U.S. special forces units used to track and combat terrorists, while also establishing a comprehensive transportation security plan and implementing the remaining security recommendations of the 9/11 commission."

President Bush's implication that Democrats are "soft" the issue of terrorism echoed previous Republican comments on the subject. As the Associated Press reported September 12, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) smeared his Democratic colleagues during a speech on the House floor, stating, "I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people. They certainly do not want to take the terrorists on and defeat them."

From the October 4 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 10 p.m.:

KENDRICK: The president's trip here today shows that he still has clout when it comes to fundraising. Supporters had to be turned away today from a $1,000-per-ticket reception for Colorado's Republican candidate for governor. The president jetting to Colorado on Air Force One this afternoon on behalf of Bob Beauprez. In over twenty-six-and-a-half minutes, the president touched on topics such as the Patriot Act, wiretapping, and the differences between Republicans and Democrats in the war on terror.

BUSH: Democrats take a law-enforcement approach to terrorism. That means America will wait until we're attacked before we respond. That is a pre-September 11, 2001, mindset. That won't work. It's just not gonna work.

KENDRICK: The president called Beauprez a clear thinker who would make a great leader for the state.

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