NY Times, USA Today repeated Bush attack on Dems without noting bipartisan criticism of Gonzales

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

The New York Times and USA Today uncritically reported President Bush's attacks on Democrats over congressional investigations of Alberto Gonzales, but neither newspaper noted that criticism of Gonzales has been bipartisan: numerous Republicans have called for Gonzales' resignation, several have criticized the administration's lack of cooperation with congressional investigations, and senior Republican Judiciary Committee members have joined Democrats in voting to authorize subpoenas of Bush administration officials as part of investigations involving Gonzales.

In August 10 articles about President Bush's press conference the day before, The New York Times and USA Today uncritically reported Bush's attacks on Democrats over congressional investigations of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales without noting that congressional criticism of Gonzales has been bipartisan: numerous Republicans have called for Gonzales' resignation, several have criticized the administration's lack of cooperation with congressional investigations, and senior Republican Judiciary Committee members have joined Democrats in voting to authorize subpoenas of Bush administration officials as part of investigations involving Gonzales.

By contrast, the Associated Press reported on August 9: "Members of Congress from both parties have called Gonzales' credibility and leadership of the Justice Department into question after congressional testimony on a number of issues." Similarly, an August 9 McClatchy Newspapers article reported that Bush has "resisted bipartisan demands for Gonzales' resignation in the wake of the scandal involving fired U.S attorneys and allegations of politicization at the Justice Department."

USA Today, however, reported that Bush "[v]igorously defended Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against charges by top Democrats." The Times reported that Bush had "criticized Democrats in Congress more generally, questioning their priorities and motives on topics like economic policy and their perjury accusations against" Gonzales and that Bush "said he wished that the Democratic-controlled Congress 'would become more prone to deliver pieces of legislation that matter, as opposed to being the investigative body.' "

As Media Matters for America has documented, Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for Gonzales to resign, as well as in criticizing the Bush administration's refusal to allow White House aides to testify under oath and on the record on the issue of the U.S. attorney dismissals. As Media Matters has noted, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) made a point of documenting his vote for the record to authorize subpoenas of White House aides. Also, according to a March 22 Congressional Quarterly article, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also said he "would like transcripts of interviews." When Gonzales testified on July 24 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ranking member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said: "The committee's going to review your testimony very carefully to see if your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable." On the July 29 edition of CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) said: "He doesn't have much credibility. And he would do us all a favor if he stepped down and allowed the president to select someone else." On April 19, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told Gonzales: "I believe you ought to suffer the consequences and think [the] best way to put this behind us is with your resignation." As USA Today reported on March 15, Sens. John E. Sununu (R-NH) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) have advocated that Gonzales step down or be fired.

In addition to repeating Bush's criticism of Democrats over the investigations of Gonzales, USA Today uncritically repeated Bush's criticism of Democrats for not passing more appropriations bills. USA Today reported said Bush "took the U.S. Congress to task for not acting more quickly on bills needed to fund the federal government for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1." But as the Times noted in its article, "Congress's progress on appropriations is slightly ahead of where it was a year ago, when Congress was in Republican hands and passed into law 2 of the 11 major spending bills."

Indeed, Congress has passed one appropriations bill so far this year -- the Homeland Security bill -- while at the same point in 2006, Congress had not yet passed a single appropriations bill. In 2006, Congress passed two spending bills on September 29, ahead of the October 1 deadline.

From the August 10 article in The New York Times:

President Bush spoke out Thursday against increasing the gasoline tax, an idea being discussed as a potential part of a new Congressional plan to shore up the nation's bridges after the deadly collapse in Minneapolis.

In his last major news conference before his summer vacation, Mr. Bush also criticized Democrats in Congress more generally, questioning their priorities and motives on topics like economic policy and their perjury accusations against Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

[...]

Mr. Bush aimed most of his criticism at the Democrats. He said he wished that the Democratic-controlled Congress "would become more prone to deliver pieces of legislation that matter, as opposed to being the investigative body."

"I mean," he added, "there have been over 600 different hearings, and yet they're struggling with getting appropriations bills to my desk."

Congress's progress on appropriations is slightly ahead of where it was a year ago, when Congress was in Republican hands and passed into law 2 of the 11 major spending bills.

From the August 10 USA Today article:

On other topics, the president:

  • Refused to predict whether the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects would be in operation when he left office in 2009. Bush said he was expressing "an aspiration" when he said he hoped the controversial facility could be closed. The biggest obstacle, he said: finding places for the prisoners to go. "A lot of people don't want killers in their midst, and a lot of these people are killers," he said.
  • Vigorously defended Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against charges by top Democrats, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, that he misled Congress about the extent of a secret wiretapping program to monitor suspected terrorists. "He has done nothing wrong," Bush said.
  • Reiterated his faith in his Iraq policy, which will be the subject of congressional debate next month when Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, is due to deliver a report on conditions in the country. "I could not send a mother's son into combat if I did not believe it necessary," Bush said.

    Though he took the U.S. Congress to task for not acting more quickly on bills needed to fund the federal government for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, Bush was less critical of the Iraqi parliament, which has failed to meet many of the benchmarks set by its own leaders and the American government.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Detention, Domestic Spying, Interrogation
Network/Outlet
The New York Times, USA Today
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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