Fox News' Brit Hume baselessly smeared House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), stating that she "is not a popular figure or respected figure nationally." Hume asserted that having Pelosi as speaker of the House "would not be terrifically positive" for "the possibility of Hillary Clinton being nominated or even elected in 2008," but he cited no specifics to support this claim, and recent public opinion polls do not back up his suggestion that the public has formed a negative view of Pelosi.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume asserted that there is a "difference" between the Democratic and Republican parties because former Republican Rep. Mark Foley is "out of office and in total disgrace in his party" after allegedly engaging in sexually explicit communications with underage congressional pages, while President Bill Clinton and Rep. Barney Frank were not similarly reprimanded for their "inappropriate behavior." However, neither the Clinton nor the Frank allegations involved minors.
Brit Hume reported claims by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that "security has actually improved in the last year" in the country, citing the decrease in car bombings in Baghdad. But Hume did not cite recent reports showing a marked increase in the number of civilian casualties and attacks in Iraq in recent months.
Brit Hume uncritically reported Alberto Gonzales's defense of the Bush administration's alleged decision to send a Canadian-Syrian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured and falsely confessed to terrorist affiliations, as documented in a recently released Canadian judicial report. Hume failed to note that Syria reportedly has a history of using torture.
Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.
Brit Hume echoed Sen. Joe Leiberman's campaign's charge that his Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont, was "completely contradicting himself" when he criticized Lieberman for his 1998 public denunciation of former President Bill Clinton's affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. But Hume misrepresented the contents of Lamont's letter.
Fox News anchors and commentators seized upon a Washington Post editorial falsely asserting that the revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity disproved the notion of a coordinated effort within the White House to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, using the occasion to repeat a host of false claims about the CIA leak case.
In reports on Hurricane Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella's August 23 appearance with President Bush, Fox News' Brit Hume and CNN's Carol Costello mentioned Vaccarella's praise for Bush's handling of the storm, but neither noted that Vaccarella once ran for local office as a Republican.
Brit Hume failed to challenge L. Paul Bremer's claim that the United States "had enough troops" in Baghdad following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003 to prevent widespread looting, but that U.S. forces "didn't have orders to stop the looting." In October 2004, Bremer had asserted that the United States "never had enough troops on the ground" to stop the looting, and that "it would have been helpful to have had more troops ... to stop the looting."
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume failed to challenge House Speaker Dennis Hastert's assertion that the "disruptive" "foreign influence" in Iraq is "getting shut down." In fact, a Congressional Research Service report found that foreign influence -- political, economic, and military -- in Iraq, particularly by Iran, remains considerable and is not likely to subside in the near future.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume used the pronoun "we" in reference to the Republican-led House of Representatives, which recently passed a bill to cut the estate tax. Hume said: "We've passed" a measure that would eliminate the tax "for nearly everybody," but that the measure is "stuck in the Senate."
Fox News' Special Report and ABC's Good Morning America featured nearly identical -- and misleading -- stories about a lawsuit filed by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, ex-CIA officer Valerie Plame, against Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Both segments uncritically reported columnist Robert D. Novak's claim that he "saw no such campaign" by White House officials to discredit Wilson, ignoring assertions by the special counsel in the case of a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" to "discredit, punish, or seek revenge against" Wilson.
Many of the same media conservatives who continually attacked The New York Times for publishing details of the Treasury Department's bank-tracking program have remained silent about the New York Daily News' decision to report that FBI officials thwarted an alleged terrorist plot in New York City, despite apparent objections from intelligence and law enforcement officials that the disclosure impeded further arrests.
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.
Numerous conservative commentators joined the Bush administration in arguing that, in detailing a secret Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions, a June 23 New York Times article tipped off terrorists to the U.S. government's ability to track their financial activities -- some going so far as to accuse the newspaper of treason. But the Times report was hardly the first indication of U.S. efforts to monitor terrorists' financial transactions: President Bush himself repeatedly touted the government's capability to track and shut down terrorists' international financial networks.