A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
In their coverage of the postponement of congressional negotiations on immigration reform, several major print media outlets failed to note that legislation passed by House Republicans would designate as felons the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States.
The Associated Press and Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume uncritically reported Vice President Dick Cheney's claim that he did not "think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered" in Iraq, as well as Cheney's claim that when Cheney said in May 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," he was referring to "the series of events that took place in" 2005. In fact, some did anticipate a violent insurgency if the United States invaded Iraq, and Cheney explicitly based his "last throes" assessment on the insurgency's "level of activity, from a military standpoint."
In articles on Senate Democrats' efforts to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, numerous print outlets focused on differences between two Democratic proposals on the issue and highlighted Republicans' dismissals of the measures as "cutting and running." But these outlets failed to note that recent polls show a majority of Americans support some form of withdrawal from Iraq.
Associated Press reporter Andrew Taylor wrote in an article that a "boatload" of "liberal-leaning" Democrats would chair committees should the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in the November elections and, without pointing to any speeches, votes, or any other specific action, referred to Rep. David Obey (D-WI) as "a free-spending progressive." Taylor added, again without offering any specific evidence, that Obey is an "unapologetic liberal" who has been an "ardent opponent of GOP efforts to clamp down of [sic] domestic agency budgets that Congress approves each year."
On June 2, The New York Times compounded the distortions found in Associated Press reporter John Solomon's highly misleading May 31 follow-up article (updated June 1) to his flawed May 29 report, publishing an edited version of Solomon's June 1 article that omitted key portions near the end. In his May 31/June 1 report, Solomon falsely suggested Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had retracted his claim that he did nothing improper in accepting "credentials" from the Nevada Athletic Commission to attend Las Vegas boxing matches.
Associated Press staff writer John Solomon's seriously flawed articles suggesting that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had acted improperly by attending Las Vegas boxing matches as the guest of the Nevada Athletic Commission "while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing" are the latest in a series of misleading reports by Solomon alleging unethical behavior by Reid, as well as by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).
In its response to Media Matters for America and TPM Muckraker's analyses of reporter John Solomon's seriously flawed Associated Press article, the AP cited three Nevada boxing officials to support Solomon's suggestion that Sen. Harry Reid's "ticket" to a September 2004 boxing match had monetary value, and could therefore be considered a "gift" from the Nevada Athletic Commission, as defined by Senate ethics rules. However, none of the three officials was quoted to that effect in Solomon's May 29 article, and all three have subsequently been quoted making statements that appear to contradict the AP's claims.
The Las Vegas Journal-Review and TPM Muckraker reported several facts that appear to undermine the thrust of John Solomon's Associated Press article suggesting that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) acted improperly by accepting free tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to, as Solomon claimed, three boxing matches at a time when the agency "was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing."
Following President Bush's nomination of Henry M. Paulson Jr. to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow, major newspapers largely ignored a deceptive -- at best -- answer Bush gave last week about whether Snow would be leaving the administration. When asked during a May 25 press conference whether Snow "had given [Bush] any indication that he intends to leave his job any time soon," Bush responded: "No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job." Yet press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that Bush had already selected John Snow's replacement by May 21.
Associated Press writer John Solomon reported that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) had attended three Las Vegas boxing matches as the guest of the Nevada Athletic Commission while the agency "was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing." But Solomon failed to inform readers that, rather than taking any actions favorable to the NAC, Reid allowed the specific legislation that the agency had opposed to pass.*
In articles on the House's passage of a bill that would allow oil exploration in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Associated Press overstated the amount of oil that could be produced if the bill becomes law.
On Today, Kelly O'Donnell uncritically reported President Bush's claim that the formation of a new government in Iraq is a "fundamental change." Similarly, the Associated Press' Nedra Pickler noted that Bush "embraced the new leadership in Iraq as a turning point in the war." In fact, the Bush administration has touted several purportedly pivotal moments since the beginning of the Iraqi occupation, suggesting each time that the situation in Iraq was about to improve.
The Associated Press reported without challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) statement that at least two of the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been briefed on the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic spying activities and that "[n]one raised any objections." The AP article did not note that these two judges reportedly expressed serious concerns about the constitutionality of the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance program.
Neither Fox News' Chris Wallace nor ABC News' George Stephanopoulos corrected a claim by first lady Laura Bush that when President Bush's poll numbers were high, the press did not put them "on the front page." Nor did the Associated Press or Reuters challenge Laura Bush's claim in articles reporting it.