Faced with widespread criticism in recent weeks, the Bush administration and some of its supporters have promoted numerous false and misleading claims intended to downplay the approval of a deal that would turn over control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World (DPW) -- a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- and cast critics of the transaction as racist, politically opportunistic, or both. The media, in turn, have often repeated these claims without challenge or correction.
While interviewing White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy on the March 2 edition of CNN's Live From... about newly released video of President Bush receiving warnings that the New Orleans levees might fail, news anchor Fredricka Whitfield joined a growing list of journalists who seem to have entirely forgotten that Bush claimed, two days after the storm, that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer said that when President Bush "puts his mind to something, he usually gets his way, at least over these past five years." In fact, while Bush has threatened to veto legislation he opposed during his five years in office, he has never actually done so. Additionally, he has reversed course in cases where he initially vowed to see his agenda realized despite any opposition and has rebuked Congress only to change his stance later.
In reporting on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ports controversy, NBC's Brian Williams failed to inform viewers that Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of Dubai, a member of the UAE. NBC's David Gregory later indicated that the company is state-owned but entirely ignored the significance of this. In doing so, they obscured the source of the controversy surrounding the Bush administration's approval of a deal to grant the company control of six U.S. ports.
CNN anchors and reporters repeatedly described Dubai Ports World -- the company set to assume control of six U.S. ports -- as an "Arab company" or a "Dubai-based company." However, in describing the company as such, these reporters are ignoring a key factor in the bipartisan controversy surrounding the takeover deal, which is that the company is a state-run business in the United Arab Emirates.
Numerous media outlets and commentators have gone to great lengths to avoid using some version of the simplest construction to describe Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting partner, Harry Whittington: Cheney shot Whittington. Instead, the media have come up with alternative formulations that have the effect of distancing Cheney from the incident.
On CNN's Live From..., anchor Kyra Phillips and White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported that, in an interview conducted with Fox News that day, Vice President Dick Cheney accepted full responsibility for accidentally shooting Texas attorney Harry Whittington during a February 11 hunting expedition. However, both Phillips and Malveaux failed to note that Cheney reportedly has been telling friends privately that Whittington was at fault and that Katharine Armstrong, whom he had designated to report the incident to the media, blamed Whittington for the accident.
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CNN's Suzanne Malveaux falsely reported that Vice President Dick Cheney first learned of the worsened medical condition of Harry Whittington, the Texas attorney whom Cheney accidentally shot during a February 11 hunting expedition, "around 12:30 [p.m.]" on February 14. In fact, a statement released by Cheney's office that day indicated that Cheney had learned of the decline in Whittington's condition early that morning.
A Media Matters review found that, following the revelation of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, recent television news coverage has quoted or replayed President Bush's 2004 denial of such a program far less than President Clinton's denial of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky during a comparable period in 1998 following his acknowledgment of such a relationship.
Media reporting on the delay between when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot one of his hunting partners and the public disclosure of that information have overlooked unanswered questions and inconsistent accounts of how the incident was revealed to the press.
In a report on hunting and politics, CNN's Bruce Morton commented that President Bush "likes to hunt quail with family and friends" and Vice President Dick Cheney "loves to hunt," but -- using language that echoed that of Cheney during the 2004 campaign -- said Sen. John Kerry "spent time posing with guns" during the 2004 presidential campaign, and that "voters probably saw more of him pursuing exotic sports, windsurfing and so on."
On the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN's Dana Bash uncritically reported the White House's claim that Katharine Armstrong, the host of Vice President Dick Cheney's February 11 hunting party, went to the press to report Cheney's shooting accident only after conferring with Cheney, a claim that directly contradicted what CNN's Suzanne Malveaux had reported earlier. But Bash failed to note the contradiction, which Malveaux had highlighted in a question to White House press secretary Scott McClellan earlier in the day.
CNN became at least the fourth news outlet to adopt the administration's preferred term "terrorist surveillance program" to describe President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program.
In a New York Times article, CNN president Jonathan Klein asserted that recent hire Bill Bennett "had explained himself clearly and very well" regarding his September 2005 comment, in which Bennett said that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." However, Bennett has defended himself by falsely claiming that the topic "was a matter that had been under discussion in articles and newspapers and in some discussions of books."