Media Matters for America has identified six findings in the Iraq Study Group's report that major news outlets have largely overlooked. They include: that the Pentagon has significantly underreported the extent of violence in Iraq, that U.S. officials possess little knowledge about the sources of the ongoing attacks, and that the situation in Afghanistan has grown so dire that U.S. troops may need to be diverted there from Iraq.
Wolf Blitzer has raised the topic of Sen. John McCain's plan to send more troops to Iraq in interviews or in panels at least once on each of the last three editions of Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer and on seven of the 12 editions of The Situation Room on which he appeared between November 13 and December 5; on the December 5 edition of The Situation Room, Blitzer asked all three of his interviewees about McCain's plan. At no point during any of these appearances did Blitzer note that questions have been raised about the plan's feasibility.
On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked whether Sen. John McCain's call for more troops is "a Profiles in Courage kind of statement," adding that McCain deserves "credit" for his statement because "he totally believes that the United States does not have enough troops in Iraq right now." But Blitzer ignored the possible political motives behind McCain's proposal.
In response to a question from Wolf Blitzer about why people have been wrongfully detained by the U.S. government, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed he didn't "know the specific cases" Blitzer was "referring to." Blitzer did not challenge Gonzales or point out any of several such detainments documented by human-rights groups and foreign governments.
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In several reports from Baghdad, CNN's Michael Ware has stated that Iraq is embroiled in a civil war. However, several other CNN reporters and analysts have continued to avoid the unqualified use of the term "civil war."
CNN's John King echoed what CNN anchor Don Lemon noted was an accusation "critics" used to "dismiss" a speech by Sen. Barack Obama as "obviously" given purely to establish Obama's "foreign-relations credentials," adding a baseless claim that no senators "would disagree" with anything Obama said in the speech. King also failed to note evidence supporting Florida Democratic congressional candidate Christine Jennings' assertion that voting machines in her district did not operate properly.
Even though Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate without losing a single seat -- an electoral feat last accomplished in 1938 -- the media have not highlighted this achievement in the two weeks after Election Day. But when Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, the first time since 1934 a president's party had done so during its first midterm election, news outlets praised it as "remarkable" and "historic."
Since the Democratic Party won control of both the House and the Senate, the media have focused on such issues as Pelosi's choice of attire and whether being female will affect her ability to lead. MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wondered if Pelosi's "personal feelings [were] getting in the way of effective leadership" -- a problem she suggested would not surface in "men-run leadership posts" -- and whether men were "more capable of taking personality clashes."
Though Nancy Pelosi will not actually assume the office of House speaker until January, some members of the media, including Wolf Blitzer and Timothy Noah, have questioned her suitability for that position, asserting that she has committed "blunders" that have "underscored her inability to get the job done."
In their coverage of Sen. Trent Lott's election as minority whip, several media outlets have either failed to note Lott's 2002 comment praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 pro-segregation presidential campaign or failed to place Lott's remark in the context of his previous statements and actions that have been attacked as racially insensitive.
While discussing Sen. John McCain's potential presidential candidacy, CNN's Wolf Blitzer ignored McCain's inconsistencies on taxes and abortion and essentially contradicted himself about McCain's position on Iraq. Blitzer also noted the names and experience of other political figures with presidential exploratory or campaign committees but did not describe their positions on any issues.
Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge the assertion of Michael Steele, a losing Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Maryland, that he "did not see ... until a couple of days after the fact" a flier that misleadingly referred to "Ehrlich-Steele Democrats" and falsely suggested that certain prominent African-American Maryland Democrats endorsed Steele and Republican Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Both Blitzer and Sean Hannity praised Steele's campaign in their interviews with him without noting Steele's 10-point margin of defeat.