Numerous news outlets -- including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, ABC, and Fox News -- joined President Bush in highlighting a split among Democrats on the issue of the Iraq war. But in mentioning only the Democrats' disagreements, these outlets are promoting the false impression that there are not significant divisions among Republicans regarding the Bush administration's wartime policies.
Following the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the news that Karl Rove would not be indicted in the CIA leak case, and other events, media figures have declared that the Bush administration is experiencing "a surge of momentum." But such assertions ignore the White House's numerous current problems.
After the release of a picture depicting White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Tony Snow wearing helmets and flak jackets while riding in a helicopter in Iraq, CNN chief national correspondent John King reported that President Bush also wore protective gear during the helicopter ride, but that members of the media "did not get to photograph" Bush because official personnel "didn't want us to get any pictures" of him entering or exiting the aircraft. In contrast, on Fox and Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and E.D. Hill claimed Bush wore no protective gear, but cited no evidence supporting their claim.
On CNN's Larry King Live, right-wing activist and author David Horowitz again defended right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's recent attacks against widows of victims from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, declaring that "Ann has done us a service."
In their coverage of Ann Coulter's attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims, both Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz and ABC's Jake Tapper denounced Coulter's inflammatory rhetoric while asserting that her underlying point -- that Democrats deliberately put forward "infallible" advocates in order to squelch honest debate -- is "valid" and "perfectly acceptable." But a closer examination of the specific examples of "infallible" advocates cited by Coulter turns up evidence that, in every case, these individuals have faced strong Republican opposition and, quite often, ad hominem attacks from conservatives.
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On CNN Live Today, CNN reporter Mary Snow falsely claimed that "renowned forecaster" William Gray "accurately predicted last year's hurricane season better than the National Hurricane Center." Gray is a scientist from Colorado State University who has spoken against the notion that human beings are responsible for global warming.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Lou Dobbs suggested that right-wing pundit Ann Coulter is the right-wing counterpart to filmmaker Michael Moore. Coulter responded, "I reject that. ... I think I am the right-wing [H.L.] Mencken, the right-wing Mark Twain. I am not the right-wing Michael Moore."
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During interviews with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on CBS' Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, and CNN's Late Edition, the shows' hosts noted that the Bush administration's recent offer to hold direct talks with Iranian officials on its nuclear program is a significant shift for the White House. But none of the hosts asked Rice to explain why the shift in policy came now rather than in 2003, when the U.S. reportedly rejected an overture from Iran in which the country pledged to suspend its "endeavors to develop or possess WMD" in exchange for concessions from the United States.
Discussing U.S. negotiations with Iran over its purported nuclear program, CNN senior national correspondent John Roberts commented that "Iraq endured 11 years of sanctions, and, you know, we still had to go to war to get rid of what it was that they had." As professional journalists, host Wolf Blitzer and Roberts are undoubtedly aware that no weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear or otherwise -- were found in Iraq. Nevertheless, Blitzer responded: "Good point, John."
On NBC's Today, Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish falsely claimed that "no one died at Abu Ghraib" -- a detention facility operated by U.S. forces in Iraq -- and that the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib was merely "a lot of ridiculous actions ... carried out by nine knuckleheads." Additionally, in a report that aired repeatedly on CNN, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre falsely reported that "[n]one of the abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib died." In fact, detainee Manadel al-Jamadi reportedly died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation by CIA personnel on November 4, 2003. The Pentagon has labeled al-Jamadi's death a "homicide," indicating that it resulted from the treatment he received at the prison -- not from natural causes.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt pointed to Rush Limbaugh as a model of the type of media figure that could help the mainstream media get Americans' "trust back."
Chris Matthews devoted the first 12 minutes of his 30-minute, NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show to asking his panel 17 questions based on The New York Times article that examined the state of the marriage between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton. Matthews asserted that Bill Clinton "doesn't get special press scrutiny." Panelist and Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy also appeared to validate the Times' decision to publish the story, stating: "I think if [the Times] hadn't done the story, someone else would have." And in an appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders falsely claimed that the Times article only discussed the Clintons' "public social lives," adding that "The New York Times would be derelict if it didn't report on this" because "it's something people want to know about."
CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck appeared to question studies showing that global temperatures have increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius by falsely claiming that annual temperatures in the United States have remained "pretty much flat." In fact, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has documented a rise in temperatures in the United States comparable to the global increase. Beck's apparent doubt about whether human beings are responsible for global climate change is contradicted by the scientific consensus on the subject.
Despite a CNN spokeswoman's acknowledgement that the use of a graphic from the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) -- an organization linked to white supremacists -- during an immigration report on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight was "regettab[le]," the incident was not mentioned during the following edition of the show. As Media Matters has noted, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the CCC "has described blacks as 'a retrograde species of humanity,' compared singer Michael Jackson to an ape, and promoted neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial materials."