Fox News' Brit Hume baselessly smeared House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), stating that she "is not a popular figure or respected figure nationally." Hume asserted that having Pelosi as speaker of the House "would not be terrifically positive" for "the possibility of Hillary Clinton being nominated or even elected in 2008," but he cited no specifics to support this claim, and recent public opinion polls do not back up his suggestion that the public has formed a negative view of Pelosi.
A Philadelphia Inquirer article characterized an admitted affair between Rep. Don Sherwood and a "woman in her 20s" as "Clintonian," even though the affair was reportedly exposed as a result of allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress. An item in ABC News' political newsletter, The Note, and a report on Fox News Sunday by Mara Liasson ignored the abuse allegations altogether.
Seeking to minimize the extent to which the House Republican leadership can be blamed for the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley, several congressional Republicans, media figures, and conservatives have posited various conspiracy theories and placed blame on just about everyone and everything else -- including liberals, Democrats, the media, "politically correct culture," gays in Congress, and congressional pages.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume asserted that there is a "difference" between the Democratic and Republican parties because former Republican Rep. Mark Foley is "out of office and in total disgrace in his party" after allegedly engaging in sexually explicit communications with underage congressional pages, while President Bill Clinton and Rep. Barney Frank were not similarly reprimanded for their "inappropriate behavior." However, neither the Clinton nor the Frank allegations involved minors.
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."
Both Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to justify the Iraq war by falsely suggesting that the 9-11 Commission report supports her claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had "contacts" with Al Qaeda before the U.S.-led invasion of that country in March 2003. Also, after Rice said she couldn't think of any specific "failures" in the Bush administration's fight against terrorism when asked by Wallace to identify one, Wallace failed to press her on the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large and his trail has reportedly gone "stone cold."
On Fox News Sunday, William Kristol attacked Democrats for "turn[ing] every event, including now the fifth anniversary of 9-11, into a partisan fight," and claimed that it is "a totally false charge that [President Bush] has played the politics of fear." Kristol also claimed that Bush "has never said a word about the Clinton administration. He has never tried to blame past [national security] failures on them."
Fox News anchors and commentators seized upon a Washington Post editorial falsely asserting that the revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity disproved the notion of a coordinated effort within the White House to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, using the occasion to repeat a host of false claims about the CIA leak case.
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.
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.