Supporters of the Iraq war -- rather than waiting for testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on the effect of President Bush's troop increase in Iraq -- have engaged in a campaign to convince the media and public that progress is being made in Iraq and that the "surge" is "working." Media Matters has compiled some of the most pervasive myths and falsehoods advanced by opponents of withdrawal in service of the "surge is working" message, which many in the media have been complicit in perpetuating.
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric introduced a report on the Iraqi military's "first-class special operations force" by saying that "a panel of retired military officers recommended the U.S. cut troop levels significantly next year to give Iraqi forces more control" and that "the panel admitted the Iraqis won't be able to fully control their country anytime soon, not in the next 18 months." However, Couric did not report that the panel recommended that the Iraqi National Police "should be disbanded and reorganized."
Katie Couric did not challenge Gen. David Petraeus' assertion during an interview that "if you look at the country as a whole ... the number of ethno-sectarian deaths, you name it, the number of incidents has been reduced dramatically" in Iraq. Couric failed to note the conclusion reached by a recent progress report by the Government Accountability Office on Iraqi benchmarks that "[i]t is unclear whether sectarian violence in Iraq has decreased;" the report also stated that "the average number of daily attacks against civilians remained about the same over the last six months."
ABC's World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News reported that the death toll for U.S. service members in Iraq was down in July. But none of the programs noted at the time that U.S. troop death numbers for July, while lower than previous months, meant that this July was the deadliest July of the war. And none of the programs have reported the fact that the current number of troops killed in Iraq for the months of June, July, and August makes the summer of 2007 the bloodiest summer of the war for American soldiers.
In reporting on Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea on disorderly conduct charges, the nightly network news broadcasts and The New York Times all ignored Craig's positions on legislation concerning gay and lesbian rights, including voting against legislation to ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton is "saying it looks like ... maybe the surge is working in the sense that there is less violence there." But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, Clinton actually said: "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working. ... We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again."
In reports on President Bush's speech arguing that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would "lead to widespread death and suffering as it did in Southeast Asia" following the Vietnam War, numerous media outlets failed to point out Bush's previous statements disavowing parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, while other reports did not note any criticism of the speech.
On CBS' The Early Show, Hannah Storm told Bob Schieffer that "[a] lot of people ... took" Michelle Obama's statement "as a slam at [Sen.] Hillary Clinton," adding: "She and her husband both said, 'Not so,' but there is a school of thought that says with a woman running for the Democratic presidential nominee that it may be up to the wives to criticize her because the men can't." At no point did either Storm or Schieffer provide Mrs. Obama's full comments, in which she talked about her own family and did not refer generally or specifically to any other candidates.
In appearances by Karl Rove on Sunday morning talk shows on Fox, CBS, and NBC, not one interviewer asked whether an August 19 Washington Post article was accurate in stating that, according to White House officials, one of Rove's "two basic rules" in putting together briefings for political appointees was "to make sure they complied with the Hatch Act," a federal law that limits political activities by federal employees. As the article noted, "the Office of the Special Counsel ... has concluded that the Hatch Act was violated" during a briefing that was conducted by a Rove aide for political appointees in the General Services Administration.
Media outlets reporting on Karl Rove's resignation omitted key facts in their discussion of Rove's involvement in the leak of Valerie Plame's identity -- that Rove in fact leaked Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak and another reporter, that then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan initially denied that Rove was involved in the leak, and that Rove would not have been able to leave "on his own terms" had the White House fulfilled a pledge to fire anyone "involved" in the Plame leak.
In reports about Karl Rove's announcement that he is resigning as White House deputy chief of staff, numerous news reports uncritically repeated Rove's assessments that President Bush "will move back up in the polls" and that Republicans have "a very good chance" of winning the White House in 2008. However, these outlets did not mention Rove's recent track record: Before the November 2006 midterm elections, he predicted that Republicans would "keep" their majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.