McClatchy Newspapers misleadingly reported that legislation proposed by Sen. Arlen Specter is "intended to put the surveillance program under the jurisdiction of a special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]." In fact, under a deal reached between the White House and congressional Republicans on the legislation, the president has the option of asking the FISA court to review the program. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin claimed that the Specter bill would "be a compromise" on the domestic surveillance program; many Democrats and progressives, however, have called the Specter bill an "end run" around FISA.
Several media outlets, in their reporting on a response President Bush gave in his August 21 press conference to a question on Iraq, either excised or omitted Bush's admission that "sometimes I'm happy" when hearing about the situation there.
CNN correspondent Elaine Quijano uncritically reported a dubious statement by President Bush suggesting a link between a recent terror plot in Britain and the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. And host Wolf Blitzer did not identify the program as warrantless, although it is the administration's failure to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance on U.S. persons that is the issue in controversy and the reason a judge struck down the program.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Bill Bennett's assertion that the recent arrests of terrorism suspects in the United Kingdom "helps the president." In fact, national polling conducted after the alleged terror plot was exposed indicates that President Bush has received no appreciable boost in public support.
A CNN report on the search for Osama bin Laden noted that the insufficient number of U.S. forces in the mountains of Afghanistan in late 2001 allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape capture. But the report omitted any reference to the recent revelation that the CIA specifically warned President Bush at the time that more U.S. troops were needed.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs, and Kelli Arena characterized a judge's ruling that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program is unconstitutional as a serious blow to the administration's efforts to combat terrorists. But it's not at all clear that the administration must violate the law to protect the country or that warrantless domestic wiretapping has been effective in combating terrorists.
Despite several reports that the recently foiled London terrorist plot had no connections to the United States, The New York Times, CNN, and Fox News uncritically repeated Republican assertions that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program played a role in the plot's breakup.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
After the recent arrests of terrorism suspects in the United Kingdom, numerous media outlets asked whether President Bush's approval ratings would benefit from the news or even claimed outright that his ratings already had benefited. Subsequent polling has shown the arrests resulted in little or no benefit for Bush. Media Matters now asks: Will these media outlets report on the true effect of the arrest on Bush's ratings?
In reporting on Sen. George Allen's use of the racially derogatory word "macaca" to refer to one of his opponent's campaign volunteers and his claim not to know what the term means or why he used it, the majority of media outlets left out a fact that might shed light on the claim's veracity -- Allen's mother was born and raised in Tunisia, a former French colony in North Africa, as Allen has repeatedly noted in the past.
Several media figures, including news reporters, echoed Republicans by employing the word "Democrat" as an adjective to refer to things or people of, or relating to, the Democratic Party.
CNN political analyst and former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts baselessly claimed that "Republicans aren't going to allow Democrats off the hook on national security" because the American public has "the perception that Democrats don't care about national security, just like they say Republicans don't care about poor people." In fact, polls show a significant decline in the advantage Republicans held on the issue of national security and indicate that Americans now trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the "campaign against terrorism."
Since the recent U.K. terrorism arrests, numerous media outlets have suggested that the news would help increase President Bush's approval in the polls. In fact, the three major polls at least partially conducted since the arrests show little or no improvement in Bush's overall job approval rating.