Fox News dedicated its coverage of an interview of President Clinton by Chris Wallace to portraying Wallace as the victim, while depicting Clinton as having a "complete meltdown," an "angry explosion," a "volcanic reaction," and as going on a "tirade" during the interview.
In the Fox News premiere of her new show, The Live Desk, host Martha MacCallum advanced several falsehoods regarding the respective anti-terrorism efforts of Presidents Clinton and Bush, while discussing Chris Wallace's recent interview with Clinton. MacCallum falsely claimed that Richard Clarke was demoted by the Bush administration after 9-11 and that the Clinton administration abandoned opportunities to take out Osama bin Laden, despite having him "in their scope."
On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson asserted that "there are plenty of aspects of the media that have blamed President Bush every step of the way for every misstep," but gave no examples to support her claim. She then falsely suggested that the press was not to blame for its treatment of Bush on Iraq, since everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But she made no mention of mounting evidence that the Bush administration had reason to know that its claims about Saddam Hussein were false.
During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."
As evidence that the American people are not in what he called the Democrats' "cut-and-run camp," Neil Cavuto cited a recent poll's finding that 67 percent of respondents believe "Democrats in Congress" do not "have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq." But he failed to note that the same poll also found that 61 percent of respondents believe President Bush does not have "a clear plan" for handling Iraq.
Neil Cavuto allowed Sen. George Allen to echo the false suggestion that the "record" of his opponent, James Webb, consists of only "10 months" in the Reagan administration and to baselessly claim that Webb had run a "misrepresentative" campaign ad that featured former President Ronald Reagan. In fact, Webb served in the Reagan administration for nearly four years, and Webb's ad simply uses a recording of Reagan's own words praising Webb's past military service.
Brit Hume uncritically reported Alberto Gonzales's defense of the Bush administration's alleged decision to send a Canadian-Syrian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured and falsely confessed to terrorist affiliations, as documented in a recently released Canadian judicial report. Hume failed to note that Syria reportedly has a history of using torture.
Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.
On Fox News, Morton M. Kondracke asserted that "you would figure that the enemy" would "help President Bush's adversaries" by "hav[ing] much more upsurges of violence in Iraq to try to focus people's attention back on Iraq." Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, Kondracke similarly claimed that, "for all I know," the growing insurgency in Iraq was "designed ... to help elect John Kerry."
A Media Matters for America review of cable and broadcast networks and major newspapers showed no coverage of a September 17 front-page Washington Post report by Rajiv Chandrasekaran detailing the process by which many individuals who "lacked vital skills and experience" were assigned to positions in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
Bill O'Reilly selectively cited a New York Times article to suggest that government officials involved in the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah agree that Zubaydah provided critical information to the United States after the CIA used "harsh" interrogation techniques. But in that same Times article, other government officials challenged the efficacy of the interrogation techniques used on Zubaydah.
In their reporting on incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) win in the September 12 Republican primary, ABC, CBS, and Fox News reported Chafee's win as making the state more challenging for Democrats to win the seat, while failing to note that Chafee's victory by no means assures his re-election and that Chafee's Democratic challenger got more votes in the primary than Chafee and his Republican primary challenger combined.
House Majority Leader John Boehner received widespread media coverage for his remark about Democratic colleagues: "Sometimes, based on the votes that get cast, you wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of the terrorists than in protecting the American people." Sen. Mary Landrieu responded to similar criticism in the Senate with an indictment of the Republicans' counterterrorism policies. Will the media highlight Landrieu's comments as they did Boehner's?